DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS
Speaker: Honourable Kevin Murphy
Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.
Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/hansard-debates/
TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016
TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR - Centreville (Kings Co.): Speed Limits - Lower,
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Environmental Goals & Sustainable Prosperity Act
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3446, Mental Health Wk. (05/02 - 05/08/16) - Recognize,
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 3447, Silver Economy Summit: Value - Recognize,
Vote - Affirmative
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 174, Financial Measures (2016) Act,
No. 175, Healthier Schools Act,
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS:
IODE Cobequid Chap. - Anniv. (100th),
MS Mo. (05/16): Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Acknowledge,
Johnson, Cst. Kevin: Heroism - Thank,
Riverview Royals - Highland Reg. Jr. Varsity Girls Basketball Title,
Queens-Shelburne: Roseway ER - Min. Plans,
Home-Based Businesses - Assistance: Gov't. Efforts - Commend,
Lyme Disease: Protection - Advice Follow,
U.N. Security Coun. - Humanitarian Regulations,
New Germany & Area Cancer Unit - Commun. Dedication,
Connors, Grant - Atl. Can. Strongest Man Comp.,
Health & Wellness - Physician Shortage,
U-16 Cabot Trailblazers Girls Basketball Team -
MacMaster, Edward: Death of - Tribute,
Truth & Reconciliation Rept. - Calls to Action,
Forsythe, Bernard: Barred Owls - Studies,
Trenton Heritage Museum - Importance,
Yar. Ferry - Blackout Days,
ANSMA - Recognize,
MacLeod, Lisa: Depression - Struggles,
N. End Commun. Health Ctr. - Model,
Annie: Cole Hbr. HS - Production,
Holmes, Madison - American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup,
We Act Comm. (Hants North RHS) - Lt.-Gov.'s Award,
Keagan, Charlie: Death of - Tribute,
O'Handley, Susan - Haiti Mission,
Clamp, Corey: L'équipe d'alphabétisation (N.É.) - President-Directeur Général,
Raine, Sarah-Jane & Norman - Anniv. (52nd),
O'Leary, Alan - Cdn. Sr. Curling Championships,
Huntley, Paula - Pay it Forward Day Proj.,
Dahn, Dr. Jeff - Gov.-Gen.'s Innovation Award,
Grevatt, Ms. Gerry: The Ark - Dedication,
Atl. Superstore Staff (Joseph Howe Dr.): Chinese Commun
Virick, Dr. Mohan - Doctors N.S. Patients' Choice Award,
MacDonald, Spencer Ivan - Delivery,
Stapleton, Liam - CBU: Basketball Team - Best Wishes,
Mobile Food Market: Organizers - Thank,
Green, Luke - NHL Draft,
Saltbox Brewing Co. - Congrats.,
Blake, PO2 Craig: Death of - Tribute,
Digby FD - Long Serv. Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
St. Clair, Jim: N.S. Highland Village - Recognition,
MacArthur, Emily/Gordon, Jake: Play Unified - Horton HS,
No. 2 Const. Battalion - Anniv. (100th) Ceremony,
Jawad, Enas: Little Picasso - Congrats.,
Cole Hbr. C.O.P.: Serv. - Acknowledge,
Newcombville Gives Back - Fundraising,
Fairview Fam. Res. Ctr. - Parenting Journey Prog.,
Bergengren Credit Union - Amalgamation/Makeover,
Lions Club Speak Out Comp. - Details,
14 Oranges Software Inc. - Welcome,
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 2195, EECD: Sch. Buses - Traffic Passing Laws,
No. 2196, Prem.: Health Budget - Underspending,
No. 2197, Prem. - Bay Ferries: Contract - Release,
No. 2198, Health & Wellness: Continuing Care Risk Mitigation - Cuts,
No. 2199, Prem. - Muskrat Falls Delay: Power Rates - Effects,
No. 2200, Health & Wellness - Schools: Mental Health - Kutcher Model,
No. 2201, Health & Wellness: LifeFlight Certification -
No. 2202, Fin. & Treasury Bd.: Craft Brewers - Tax Disparity,
No. 2203, Health & Wellness - Aberdeen Hosp.: Mental Health Unit
No. 2204, Health & Wellness - LifeFlight: Elimination
No. 2205, Health & Wellness: Northside Gen. Hosp. - Staff Consultation,
No. 2206, Health & Wellness: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Prog
No. 2207, Health & Wellness: Nursing Home Incidents -
No. 2208, EECD: Frank H. MacDonald Sch. - P-8 Renovations,
No. 2209, Health & Wellness - Midwifery Serv.: Expansion
No. 2210, Bus.: Auditor General's Rating - Explain,
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CW ON SUPPLY AT 3:34 P.M
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:39 P.M
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 171, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Act
Vote - Affirmative
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CW ON BILLS AT 7:57 P.M
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 8:26 P.M
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 152, Municipal Government Act and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter,
Motion to adjourn debate
Motion to adjourn debate
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 4th at 1:00 p.m
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3448, Cudmore, David: Retirement - Well Wishes,
Res. 3449, J.G. VanOostrum Farm Equipment Ltd.: Success
Res. 3450, Collier, Peter - RBC Training Ground Athlete,
Res. 3451, Yuen-Rapati, Ellis: Viola - Dedication Congrats.,
Res. 3452, Chisholm, John Wesley/Arcadia Entertainment Inc
Res. 3453, Wyatt, Sean: Invictus Games (Orlando)
Res. 3454, Patterson, Shannon - Educ. Wk. Award,
Res. 3455, Cleroux, Ron: Invictus Games (Orlando)
Res. 3456, Saccary, Kevin & Scott: New Scotland Clothing Co
Res. 3457, McAllister, Mary - Birthday (95th),
HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016
Sixty-second General Assembly
Hon. Kevin Murphy
Mr. Gordon Wilson, Mr. Keith Irving
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
We, the undersigned, request that the speed limits on Highway 359 from Centreville sign north to Frail's Nursery, Highway 221 from Eaton Branch Road west to Kingdom Hall, and Sherman Belcher Road from Saxon Street west to Highway 359, as well as Lydiard Road and Saxon Street from Sherman Belcher Rd to Highway 359, be lowered to 50 kms per hour.
Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to this petition.
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
RESOLUTION NO. 3446
Whereas every day, Nova Scotians like Lyne Brun live with mental illness but choose not to let it define them; and
Whereas peer supporters like Carrie Lee have been through treatment, have found their path, and are now supporting other people who need help; and
Whereas Nick Peters, Chairman of the Mental Health Foundation Board, speaks publicly and offers lunchtime workshops to help workplaces understand the challenges that some of their colleagues may be facing;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Mental Health Week, May 2nd to May 8th, and recognize the strength and resilience of the one-in-five Canadians who live with mental illness and addictions every day.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Minister of Seniors.
RESOLUTION NO. 3447
Whereas Nova Scotia's population is rapidly aging, with approximately 1,000 people turning 65 every month - and we have the second highest percentage of people 65 years of age and older in Canada; and
Whereas the Third Silver Economy Summit, hosted by the Department of Seniors and the Town of New Glasgow in March, provided the venue to explore the untapped economic opportunities that Nova Scotia's aging population offers; and
Whereas the summit was about understanding the needs and interests of this demographic changing to meet them and recognizing older adults as a strong foundation for growth and entrepreneurship;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the value in bringing together members of the public, academia, business, and the not-for-profit sector, as well as older adults and students, to have conversations about ways to leverage the opportunities of this demographic population.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 174 - Entitled an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. (Hon. Randy Delorey)
Bill No. 175 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act, Respecting the Improvement of Mental Health in Adolescents. (Hon. Jamie Baillie)
NOTICES OF MOTION
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
IODE COBEQUID CHAP. - ANNIV. (100th)
On May 3, 1916, the Methodist Church in Springhill was the site of those planning to organize a local chapter of the IODE. Cobequid Chapter has supported many projects over the years including junior and senior high school students through bursaries, awards, and programs. They are champions of literacy and have promoted reading through donations of books to the classrooms and libraries of the area. In addition, the women have assisted the community through donations to food banks and collections of eyeglasses, books, and clothing, and by delivering Christmas gifts to residents of Sunset Residential and Rehabilitation Centre in Pugwash.
I congratulate the IODE Cobequid Chapter on the 100th Anniversary, and I thank them for the outstanding and the very important work they do in Springhill and the surrounding communities. Thank you.
MS MO. (05/16): CHESTER-ST. MARGARET'S MLA - ACKNOWLEDGE
MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. Canada has one of the highest rates in the world, and Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates in Canada - our province has more than double the national rate. Because MS typically appears in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40 who are in mid-life and mid-career, it tends to have a huge impact on the entire family.
MS has recently hit the NDP family, and I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and honour our colleague, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's. She has asked us to express her sincere appreciation for the warm wishes she has received from people throughout Nova Scotia. She encourages her colleagues in the House to join her in learning more about MS.
Knowledge is power, and power makes it possible to find a cure for MS. (Applause)
AN HON. MEMBER: East gallery.
We are joined by a special guest here today, Constable Kevin Johnson. Some of you who were at Law Amendments Committee yesterday will have met Kevin and his service dog, Maggie, at that time. He was there to speak to that bill. But today it is just past seven years - April 30th actually marks seven years since Kevin brought many people to safety in the fire that was in the Purcells Cove-Herring Cove area seven years ago. He put himself at risk and rescued other people, and I was pleased earlier today, downstairs in the Veterans Room, to recognize Kevin for this act of heroism.
I ask that all members of the House join me today in recognizing him for his heroic act and give him the warm welcome of the House, and I wonder if you would rise, Kevin. Thank you. (Standing Ovation)
JOHNSON, CST. KEVIN: HEROISM - THANK
MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : And to follow up - Mr. Speaker, April 30, 2009, is a day which will be remembered for a long time. That was the day of the Purcells Cove forest fire, a fire which forever changed the lives and landscape of a community. That day a hero rose to the occasion, Constable Kevin Johnson. He heroically rushed into harm's way to save lives. In doing so, Kevin almost lost his own life that day doing what he was born to do, which is to serve and protect.
I ask that, which we just did, we all stand and give Constable Kevin Johnson, a local hero, and his service dog, Maggie, and his entire family a loud thank you and a round of applause. Thank you, Kevin. (Applause)
RIVERVIEW ROYALS - HIGHLAND REG. JR. VARSITY GIRLS BASKETBALL TITLE
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Riverview Royals, who recently captured the Highland Region Junior Varsity girls basketball title. On February 14th, Riverview defeated Memorial 47-28 in the championship game, which was held at Riverview High School.
It is a pleasure to congratulate the Riverview Royals and thank each member and their coaches for all the hard work and dedication they put into their team.
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : I'd like to draw attention to the east gallery. If you would please rise, I will introduce the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, Starr Dobson. Seated with Ms. Dobson is the communications coordinator for the foundation, Colleen Fraser.
The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is putting on an event featuring Margaret Trudeau this evening. It has attracted so much attention that it's now at overflow capacity. I would like all members to join me in welcoming Starr Dobson and Colleen Fraser to the House today. (Applause)
QUEENS-SHELBURNE: ROSEWAY ER - MIN. PLANS
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of weeks, I have been announcing to the Minister of Health and Wellness, to members of this House, and to the public, the closures at the Roseway ER since the minister came to Queens-Shelburne to announce his plan for the Roseway ER. In the five months since the minister announced his plan for our ER, the Roseway ER has been closed a total of 591 hours - close to 25 full days.
The people in my community have waited for the results of the minister's plan for too long. The people of Queens-Shelburne cannot schedule their health emergencies, and are looking to the minister to create the plan he said he would back in November 2015. To be continued.
HOME-BASED BUSINESSES - ASSISTANCE:
GOV'T. EFFORTS - COMMEND
MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Not everyone gets up and drives to the office to go to work. For many entrepreneurs and freelance employees, their work follows them home. Home-based businesses are an important facet of today's versatile employment landscape and provide a notable boost to our province's economy, especially in areas outside Halifax proper, like Hammonds Plains-Lucasville.
With the commitment to home-based businesses and extending Internet access to those rural areas in the recently-released budget, this government has put the ball in home-based businesses' court to revamp regulations exempting home-based businesses from certain Building Code requirements intended for commercial spaces, and a $6-million increase to help bring high-speed Internet access to more homes and businesses.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to commend our efforts to help small home-based businesses cut out red tape that has held them back in the past. I would encourage people to continue participating in the survey that's online.
LYME DISEASE: PROTECTION - ADVICE FOLLOW
Unfortunately, tick populations are expanding across the province. Because Lyme disease awareness has grown over the years, an increase in the number of cases is expected. The black-legged tick has been found throughout the province, so vigilance is important as the warm weather takes more and more Nova Scotians outdoors.
Something as simple as checking oneself over for the black-legged tick can help prevent Lyme disease. Removing ticks as soon as possible can prevent or reduce the risk of infection. The Progressive Conservative caucus believes that a comprehensive Lyme disease strategy would increase awareness about the disease and create guidelines for prevention, identification, treatment, and management of the disease.
As the weather warms and Nova Scotians enjoy our great outdoors even more, I encourage everyone to follow advice on how to safely avoid the black-legged tick bite that can cause this terrible disease.
U.N. SECURITY COUN. - HUMANITARIAN REGULATIONS
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Today, the United Nations Security Council will consider a resolution calling on members to reaffirm their obligations to protect the wounded and the sick and their caregivers in conflict zones. Medical organizations rely on international humanitarian law to protect the legal space in which doctors, nurses, and staff can care for war's most vulnerable victims.
In recent months, medical facilities in Sudan, Yemen, and South Sudan have been attacked. These attacks have highlighted the need for Security Council member states to reaffirm their obligations to longstanding international law.
I'm hopeful that these member states will take the lead in reminding all countries of the humanitarian principles that exist even during times of conflict.
NEW GERMANY & AREA CANCER UNIT - COMMUN. DEDICATION
MS. SUZANNE LOHNES-CROFT « » : Mr. Speaker, after 45 years one of the longest-running cancer support units in the province is saying good-bye. In the early 1970s three women in the New Germany area came together to offer support to those who were battling cancer by forming the New Germany and Area Cancer Unit.
Over the last four decades the group grew to as many as 15. Those who volunteered as part of the Canadian Cancer Society offered invaluable help and services to cancer patients in the area. Volunteers canvassed door-to-door, offered comfort, advice, support, whatever they could do to help their community fight the dreaded disease.
After 45 years they will be missed but they will not be forgotten. This is a small group of powerful volunteers who have left a mark on the community that will outlast us all. Mr. Speaker, I ask that all members of the House join me in thanking the members, both past and present, of the New Germany and Area Cancer Unit for their selfless dedication to the community.
CONNORS, GRANT - ATL. CAN. STRONGEST MAN COMP.
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, Grant Connors of Kentville won his ninth Atlantic Canada Strongest Man competition in July 2015 by lifting five stones onto the 54-inch platforms. The first stone was 265 pounds and they increased weight to 285, 305, 350 and 375 pounds. His goal is 10 Atlantic titles but his focus is on the Canadian and North American championships. Of all the strong man events, Grant's favourite event is the crucifix hold where a competitor holds a 27.5 pound weight in each hand, held out straight for as long as possible. In 2007 he set the world record in the crucifix hold where he beat Hugo Girard six times Canada's strongest man, with a time of 91 seconds.
He currently holds the world record for the same hold with a time of 210 seconds and has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. I wish Grant the best of luck on the upcoming Atlantic competition on May 27th and May 28th.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health and Wellness is telling us that there are enough doctors in our province. This doesn't sit right with residents of Lower Sackville who are unable to find a doctor when their doctor retires or has to give up their practice.
Evan Keizer is a senior in my riding of Sackville-Cobequid who has been without a doctor for over 10 months. Mr. Keizer contacted my office to add his name to the ever-growing list of residents who are losing or are already without a family doctor. His inquiries to the Nova Scotia Health Authority for a family doctor accepting new patients can only offer a very part-time nurse practitioner in a walk-in clinic. This goes against the Premier's election promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian.
U-16 CABOT TRAILBLAZERS GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
- DIV. 3 PROV. CHAMPIONSHIP
MS. PAM EYKING « » : Mr. Speaker, today I rise to congratulate the under-16 Cabot Trailblazers girls basketball team on their recent Division 3 Provincial Championship. The Trailblazers travelled to Halifax to compete in the provincial tournament held at St. Agnes Junior High on April 9th and April 10th. The Trailblazers capped off an undefeated tournament with a 55-42 victory over the West End Steelers in the championship game.
Mr. Speaker, would you please join me in congratulating the Trailblazers on the Provincial Championship and wish them the best of luck next season.
MACMASTER, EDWARD: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Edward MacMaster who passed away on March 28th. Ed was the Municipality of Pictou County's longest-serving councillor, having served the people of District 3 for over 40 years.
The secret to Ed's long municipal political career is that he never took his job as representing the people lightly. He always took time to get to know his constituents and listen to their issues. Over the years he assisted hundreds of people and represented District 3 with passion and integrity. He was first and foremost a man of the people and always voiced their concerns at council meetings.
Mr. Speaker, Ed MacMaster will be sadly missed by not only his family but also by the residents of District 3 in Pictou County.
TRUTH & RECONCILIATION REPT. - CALLS TO ACTION
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, on December 15, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its historic final report. The report included an extensive set of recommendations for all Canadians and all levels of government.
I encourage my colleagues to take a close look at this report. Today, I want to call your attention to the health-related calls to action. Mr. Speaker, there are seven such recommendations, including one that calls for more Aboriginal health care professionals, better retention of Aboriginal health care providers in Aboriginal communities, and cultural competency training for all health care professionals.
The calls to action, Mr. Speaker, offer a detailed set of directions, which we would do well to follow. Thank you.
FORSYTHE, BERNARD: BARRED OWLS - STUDIES
MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge a man recognized as a provincial expert on a unique population, the barred owl. Mr. Bernard Forsythe of Wolfville Ridge, is now in his 70s and has for over 30 years built houses for barred owls.
In the Spring, he makes an open invitation to his community to witness the banding of young chicks born in his boxes. According to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, Mr. Forsythe's collection of over 3,000 nest-record cards is considered infallible. Mr. Forsythe has been studying birds since he was a teenager and has banded over 600 owls. Mr. Forsythe is to be commended for his enormous contribution to the conservation of biology in our province, and on behalf of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly I would like to thank Mr. Forsythe for caring for the barred owls of our province, and for generously sharing his passion and experience with the community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
TRENTON HERITAGE MUSEUM - IMPORTANCE
HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, the Trenton Heritage Museum contains photos, stories, articles and numerous artifacts, revealing the rich history of the town. The museum is sponsored by the Trenton Centennial Celebration Society. A collection of historical items were collected by Craig MacKay and Shirley MacMillan. It was their wish to preserve the history of the steel town, the birthplace of steel in British North America.
Trenton residents believe history plays a vital role in our everyday lives. We learn from our past in order to achieve greater influence over our future. The Trenton Heritage Museum helps to provide a sense of place and continuity. It is important for communities to keep their identities intact. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
YAR. FERRY - BLACKOUT DAYS
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia learned this week that the Yarmouth ferry will not be able to dock in Portland for several blackout days during peak tourist season.
People all over Nova Scotia are left scratching their heads on how blackout days would be allowed under this government but the people of Queens-Shelburne aren't very surprised to learn about these blackout days. The reason they are not surprised is because the people of my community have to deal with blackout days at the Roseway ER almost on a weekly basis.
Mr. Speaker, to be continued.
ANSMA - RECOGNIZE
I attended the event this year, as I have in the past, but want to mention how wonderful it is to recognize the talent of our African Nova Scotian citizens. This event played an important role in the lives of our up and coming youth, as they strive to reach their dreams. This year's special musical guest, award winning vocalist and actress Jackie Richardson, graced us with her kind words and musical talents.
This evening was very well attended and definitely one to remember. I think that next year will offer even more. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MACLEOD, LISA; DEPRESSION - STRUGGLES
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment and recognize the bravery of my friend, and New Glasgow native, Lisa MacLeod. This week Lisa, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Nepean-Carleton Ontario, bravely shared her own private struggles with depression. By making her own battle with depression public, she will help many others find the courage to share their own stories and get the help they need.
The National Post referred to Lisa as the lioness of the Legislature, and she has always been a strong voice, standing up for her constituents and her values. You know, Mr. Speaker, mental illness threatens to silence that strong voice, but I am very proud of her for fighting back, speaking out, and using her voice to help others who are struggling with mental illness.
So today, on behalf of the Official Opposition, I wish to congratulate Lisa and wish her all the best on her recovery and thank her for her courage on this issue.
N. END COMMUN. HEALTH CTR. - MODEL
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, the North End Community Health Centre is approaching its 45th birthday. Since 1971, it has served as a community-based model for delivering health care, owned and operated by the community it serves. The North End clinic offers a full spectrum of primary health care services as well as educational outreach and advocacy. Physicians, nurses, mental health care workers, dietitians, social workers, and other health care providers and professionals work together in a collaborative team to address complex health and social issues. It was this approach that led to the innovation of the Hope Blooms initiative.
The North End clinic is a model for community-based health care that could be applied to other communities around Nova Scotia. We encourage the government to use this prototype to develop similar community health clinics across Nova Scotia.
ANNIE: COLE HBR. HS - PRODUCTION
MS. JOYCE TREEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the theatrical talents of our local high school. On April 8th I attended the musical production of Annie at Cole Harbour High. The musical was fabulous, and I could tell that these students had put countless hours of work into the show. They started rehearsing Annie in September, which was clearly evident as I watched the show. Everything about the production was amazing, from the acting, singing, and set design to the musical talent of the pit band.
I would like to commend director Madame Celine Cusson, musical director Tina Gallant and all the staff and parents for the support and hard work they provided to make this happen. Cole Harbour High has been staging musicals annually since 2002 and has become widely known for their productions. To all the students involved, from the actors to the musicians to the stage crew, you rocked it and you should be proud.
HOLMES, MADISON - AMERICAN QUARTER HORSE YOUTH WORLD CUP
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Madison Holmes on qualifying for the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup. She is one of only five Canadians to have qualified for the event, which will take place in Tamworth, Australia, from June 23rd to July 3rd.
It is a prestigious event that takes place every four years in Texas and every four years in other countries. It provides competition, education, and leadership, with medals awarded in the cutting, reining, horsemanship, western pleasure, trail, western riding, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle, and showmanship disciplines. The competitors will ride horses provided at the event, and therefore adaptation skills will be extremely important.
Madison has been riding horses since she was four years old. I wish her the best of luck in Australia.
WE ACT COMM. (HANTS NORTH RHS) - LT.-GOV.'S AWARD
HON. MARGARET MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, young Nova Scotians are our future - the next generation of citizens and community leaders. Engaged youth not only make positive contributions to their schools but will come to share this civic-minded attitude with this province and beyond. We must do all we can to encourage them as they find their place in the world.
In 2013 the Lieutenant Governor established the Respectful Citizenship Award. This award honours students for their efforts to better the lives of others and encourages other youth to do the same. On February 24th the We Act Committee of Hants North Rural High was presented with this award by Lieutenant Governor J.J. Grant. The committee consists of 20 students from Grade 7 through to Grade 12 and has undertaken a variety of campaigns, both local and global in nature. Their generous efforts have helped numerous charities and causes, ranging from support of the local food bank to the global access to education campaign, We Are Silent.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate them on this award and offer thanks for their efforts in our community.
KEAGAN, CHARLIE: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember the life of former CBRM councillor, constituent, and friend Charlie Keagan. Charlie was a lifelong resident of North Sydney, growing up on what was known as Gannon Road. If anybody knows about the Northside, Gannon Road was one of the toughest places to grow up in but he always had strong family values.
Charlie was very proud of his upbringing and raised a large family of his own. He was a well-known resident and a volunteer in our community who served on council in the former Town of North Sydney as deputy mayor and was a councillor in the CBRM. He will be missed by all who knew him.
O'HANDLEY, SUSAN - HAITI MISSION
HON. LLOYD HINES « » : In April 2015, Susan O'Handley of Canso and a group of RCMP employees travelled to the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti. Their mission: to complete the building of a school in the community of Terre Sel, one of the most isolated villages in the country, located on La Gonâve Island.
This group of 11 Canadian volunteers was successful in raising money to finish the school. This is a huge accomplishment, for which the villagers are forever grateful, and it has been a huge help in providing a better life for the children. Ms. O'Handley has been collecting donations of money and school supplies since her initial trip, and these items were recently delivered to Terre Sel by the medical team travelling to the country.
Mr. Speaker, this is yet another example of the people of Guysborough County doing what they always do in supporting those in need. I am proud to represent such a caring and compassionate community, and I thank Ms. O'Handley for all her hard work.
CLAMP, COREY: L'ÉQUIPE D'ALPHABÉTISATION (N.É.)
- PRESIDENT-DIRECTEUR GÉNÉRAL
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : L'équipe d'alphabétisation Nouvelle-Écosse annoncé une nouveau directeur général. Corey Clamp, un natif du Point du Saute joint l'équipe, remplaçant Ghislaine d'Eon, qui était directeur depuis nombreuses années. Corey Clamp possède une vaste expérience professionnelle. Il a obtenu son baccalauréat en droit et a travaillé pour McInnes Cooper avant de travailler en tant de fonctionnaire du gouvernement fédéral comme un agent de service à l'étrangère pendant six ans dans nombreux endroits, y compris Ottawa, Ghana, New Delhi, et Ho Chi Min-Ville. Au fil des ans, il a également occupé de divers contrats de travail dans la région de Halifax, pour en nommer quelques-uns. Il était le propriétaire d'un restaurant à Halifax avant de revenir à ses racines dans le Sud-Ouest. Je félicite Corey Clamp à son nouveau poste et lui souhaite un succès continu dans ses efforts.
In English: the French Literacy Team of Nova Scotia announced a new CEO. Corey Clamp of Sluice Point joins the team, replacing Ghislaine D'Eon, who was the director for many years. Corey has extensive professional experience. He obtained his law degree, worked for the law firm McInnes Cooper, and worked as an official for the federal government as an overseas service officer for six years, working in many places, including Ottawa, Ghana, New Delhi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Over the years, he has held various contracts in the Halifax area. He was also owner of a restaurant in Halifax before returning to his roots in southwestern Nova Scotia. I congratulate Corey on his new position and wish him success in his new endeavours.
RAINE, SARAH-JANE & NORMAN - ANNIV. (52ND)
HON. LENA DIAB « » : I rise today to congratulate constituent Sarah-Jane Raine for being elected the 2016 Commodore of the Armdale Yacht Club. Sarah-Jane grew up on the Northwest Arm near the Armdale Rotary and, as a young person, started sailing at the club. She has always been a member of this Armdale sailing institution, despite sailing and living in so many other places over the years. Ms. Raine has been an active member of the club, promoting its history and cultural significance for the area. Recently, she gave a presentation highlighting the club's heritage at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Sarah-Jane and her husband, Norman, celebrated their 52nd Wedding Anniversary on February 8, 2016. I ask all members of the House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Raine and wishing them good health and success.
O'LEARY, ALAN - CDN. SR. CURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
HON. TONY INCE « » : I rise today to acknowledge one of our constituents, Alan O'Leary. Alan is a member of the Nova Scotia Men's Senior Curling Team. From March 28th to April 2nd, team members Andrew Dauphinee, Danny Christianson and Harold McCarthy, skipped by Alan, competed in the Canadian Senior Curling Championships in Digby. After an exciting and competitive tournament, the team came away with a bronze medal, a great effort by a team and their skip. I would like to extend my congratulations to Alan and his team for their excellent achievement. It's amazing to see such notable success in sports from all age groups of Nova Scotians. I wish the team all the best for the future.
HUNTLEY, PAULA - PAY IT FORWARD DAY PROJ.
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Paula Huntley is a very busy Kentville woman who manages her staging business, writes for The Chronicle Herald, is a manager at Winners, and is a volunteer extraordinaire. Remarkably, Paula puts aside endless time to help others. Her energetic and friendly personality blossoms whenever she's promoting the Pink Ribbon Tea, whenever she's organizing for breast cancer, or gathering mittens for the Mittens for Kids campaign that she set up for Valley children in need. Last year, the newly established 45-member Valley Chapter of 100 Women Who Care was organized by Paula. Paula also walked 32 kilometres a day three days a week to prepare for this summer's Susan Komen Challenge, a 100-kilometre Boston walk for breast cancer to raise $10,000 for cancer support.
Paula's recent challenge saw her organize the Pay it Forward Day project. Paula is truly an inspiration to those who are or are considering becoming a volunteer.
DAHN, DR. JEFF - GOV.-GEN.'S INNOVATION AWARD
HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Dr. Jeff Dahn who is one of the inaugural recipients of the Governor General's Innovation Award. The awards were created to honour Canadian innovations across all sectors while aiming to inspire entrepreneurial innovation.
Dr. Dahn is the Canada Research Chair in Battery and Fuel Cell Materials and a professor at Dalhousie University in both the physics and chemistry departments. His research team has helped increase the amount of energy that lithium ion batteries can store. They have also developed ways to improve their lifespan and reduce their cost. Dr. Dahn's ground-breaking advancements in this field can be seen in the battery technology used in electric vehicles and power tools. Because of this, Dr. Dahn will soon begin a five-year research partnership with Tesla Motors.
I want to acknowledge Dr. Dahn's advancement in sustainable energy and wish him the best of luck into the future.
GREVATT, MS. GERRY: THE ARK - DEDICATION
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, there are those who see a need and do something about it. That is just what Gerry Grevatt is doing. In partnership with participants from the Lunenburg County Association for the Specially Challenged, a book has been written titled, The Man with Too Many Hats. This book was originally geared to the reading program at The Ark in Bridgewater, but it is perfect for all of our early readers as well. The book can now be purchased, and the proceeds go to help support several projects The Ark is interested in doing.
I would ask this House to please join me in recognizing Ms. Grevatt for her initiative and her dedication to The Ark and all who benefit from this wonderful organization.
ATL. SUPERSTORE STAFF (JOSEPH HOWE DR.):
CHINESE COMMUN. - RECEPTION
MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the staff at the Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive for their support of the local Chinese community. Atlantic Superstore again hosted an annual reception to showcase traditional Chinese cuisine in honour of the Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar and is celebrated by over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Numerous numbers of the local Chinese community attended the event and enjoyed a variety of traditional dishes. Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are all about family. On the eve, loved ones gather for a reunion dinner where they sit at round tables to enjoy food and quality time together. On New Year's Day, the young generation will serve tea to their parents and grandparents as a gesture of respect.
I wish to recognize the Atlantic Superstore and their staff for hosting this event and being an inclusive community partner.
VIRICK, DR. MOHAN - DOCTORS N.S. PATIENTS' CHOICE AWARD
MR. DAVID WILTON « » : Mr. Speaker, at this time, I would like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Mohan Virick who is the winner of the inaugural Doctors Nova Scotia Patient's Choice Award. At 80 years of age, Dr. Virick is semi-retired working three mornings a week at his walk-in clinic.
During his career, he worked for decades with the local Mi'kmaq people of Cape Breton and his influence in their communities is known with constant education and awareness on issues such as alcoholism, diabetes, and obesity. Typical to his character, the $5,000 award will be donated to his charities of choice: Loaves and Fishes in Sydney, and the Kids Help Phone. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Virick, a good friend of mine and a personal physician.
MACDONALD, SPENCER IVAN - DELIVERY
MR. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the spectacular circumstances surrounding the arrival of Spencer Ivan MacDonald born on January 9, 2016, to Jennifer Bonin and Corey MacDonald of Terence Bay.
Spencer, Jennifer and Corey's second child and a baby brother for Cooper, was in a hurry to arrive. Jen and Corey had to stop into Lindsey and Chris Deal's house en route to the hospital to call 911. The 911 dispatcher instructed them to lie towels and sheets on the floor and prepare to deliver the baby at which point the top of the baby's head was visible. Moments later, the Prospect Road Volunteer Fire Department arrived. The three members attending - Laura Allen, Todd Gaudet, and Angela Morash - were quick to put everyone at ease; and they confidently delivered a healthy baby to very happy and relieved parents.
Both Jennifer and Corey feel blessed to have these dedicated and skilled volunteer firefighters in the community. These individuals not only fight fires and attend accidents but they respond to medical emergencies of all kinds; in this case, they were heroes. I would like to congratulate the Bonin-MacDonald family on their new addition and a thank you on behalf of the House of Assembly to Laura Allan, Todd Gaudet, and Angela Morash for their selfless service to the community.
STAPLETON, LIAM - CBU: BASKETBALL TEAM - BEST WISHES
MR. DEREK MOMBOURQUETTE « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Liam Stapleton of Sydney. Liam is an outstanding basketball player and has played at all levels, both locally and at the provincial level through his middle school and through his high school basketball career.
Liam graduates from Sydney Academy this coming Spring and he is joining the CBU Capers basketball team in the Fall. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Liam on all of his success on the court and off the court, and wish him all the best as he attends Cape Breton University in the Fall and becomes a member of the men's basketball team.
MOBILE FOOD MARKET: ORGANIZERS - THANK
MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : Mr. Speaker, May 14th will see the official launch of the Mobile Food Market. This market will bring fresh healthy food to many communities in HRM, including East and North Preston, Fairview, the north end of Halifax, and of course, Spryfield.
Thank you to the municipality, Metro Transit, the Department of Health and Wellness, and former Spryfield community outreach officer Julia Kemp for making this possible.
GREEN, LUKE - NHL DRAFT
MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my congratulations to Luke Green of Hammonds Plains, who is ranked 40th amongst North American skaters in the final draft rankings for the 2016 hockey season. Luke is projected to be taken in the second or third round of the upcoming NHL draft, after being taken first overall in the Q Draft by the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2014.
Mr. Speaker, it speaks volumes to the tradition of excellence in sport, particularly hockey, that Mr. Green will get the chance to ply his trade in the best hockey league in the world against other hometown notables like Brad Marchand and Andy Bodnarchuk, who have come up playing in the same Halifax area rinks.
I would like to ask that members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the hard work, not just of the athletes but of the commitments made by parents, coaches, and volunteers, to create an atmosphere that can foster this kind of success for our young athletes.
SALTBOX BREWING CO. - CONGRATS.
This winter founding partners Patrick Jardine, George Anderson, Jane McLoughlin, and Andrew Tanner proudly formed the Saltbox Brewing Company. They will operate out of an old service station on Main Street, with plans that include a retail space to sell growlers, kegs, maybe even bottles, a tap room, and even a deck with outdoor seating.
The backbone of rural Nova Scotia is in its small business, and this is another small business that is doing its part to keep people working and living in this province. Mr. Speaker, I ask that all members join me in congratulating the founders of Saltbox Brewing Company, and wish them continued success in the coming years.
BLAKE, PO2 CRAIG: DEATH OF - TRIBUTE
On this day in 2010, 37-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake was killed by an improvised explosive device near the Panjwai district of Afghanistan near Kandahar. Craig was a clearance diver with Shearwater's Navy Fleet Diving Unit. He was in Afghanistan on a mission to make lives safer by diffusing roadside bombs. He had been on station for only a couple of weeks when the incident took his life. He was only serving his first tour in Afghanistan.
More than being a sailor, he was a married father of two living in Dartmouth East. Craig was a local hockey coach and a triathlete. He was known as a quiet person who contributed greatly to his community and loved his family. Craig's legacy lives on through his widow Priscilla, his sons Cain and Tie, as well as his contributions through the Craig Blake Memorial Fitness Challenge and the naming of the Harbour ferry.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that members recognize not only Craig's ultimate sacrifice, but also all men and women who serve our country in the Canadian Forces. As they say in the Royal Canadian Navy: "Ready. Aye. Ready."
DIGBY FD - LONG SERV. AWARDS: RECIPIENTS - CONGRATS.
MR. GORDON WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, on February 13, 2016, at the Digby Fire Department banquet, the Digby Fire Department recognized the hard work and years of service of their members. One of the highlights of the evening was the presenting of the Long Service Awards. They included the 35-Year Service Award to Harold Dugas and Jim Gaunce; the 30-Year Service Award to Richard Robertson and Ralph Cummings; the 25-Year Service Award to Steve Savary, Sr.; and the 10-Year Service Award to Steve Savary, Jr. and Drew MacLean.
At the banquet, Kevin Manzer, Captain of Company 2, and Jonathan Riley were respectively named Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year - the recipients of these two awards are determined by their peers.
I was honoured to be invited to present some of these awards to the firefighters. Our firefighters are volunteers from our communities who protect our families, our homes, and our businesses.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the firefighters from across the province who are so dedicated to our communities, and to congratulate one more time the firefighters honoured at the banquet in Digby.
ST. CLAIR, JIM: N.S. HIGHLAND VILLAGE - RECOGNITION
MS. PAM EYKING « » : Mr. Speaker, today I rise to acknowledge Jim St. Clair who was recently recognized for his dedication in the Nova Scotia Highland Village. In April the Canadian Museums Association national conference was held in Halifax at the Canadian Museum of Immigration.
This year 14 awards were presented. One of the awards presented, in collaboration with the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums, was the 2015 Museum Volunteer Award. This award was presented to Mr. St. Clair for his over 38 years of dedication to the Highland Village Museum.
Mr. Speaker, please join me to congratulate Mr. St. Clair on his award, as well as thank him for his dedication and service to museums.
MACARTHUR, EMILY/GORDON, JAKE: PLAY UNIFIED - HORTON HS
Emily MacArthur and Jake Gordon spearheaded the introduction of the Play Unified initiative at Horton High School. Play Unified is a co-operative effort of Special Olympics Nova Scotia and the Annapolis Valley School Board that promotes social inclusion through sport. Horton's Team Unified includes basketball players with and without physical and intellectual disabilities.
For their initiative in making their school a more inclusive community, Jake and Emily have been recognized by Lieutenant Governor J.J. Grant with a Respectful Citizenship Award. I ask members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in commending Ms. MacArthur, Mr. Gordon, and Horton's Team Unified for fostering acceptance, dignity, and respect in their school and community.
NO. 2 CONST. BATTALION - ANNIV. (100th) CEREMONY
MR. STEPHEN GOUGH « » : The No. 2 Construction Battalion was this year's theme for African Heritage Month, which kicked off on February 1st. Many African Nova Scotians wanted to serve in the First World War, but were not permitted due to racial barriers.
In 1916 the Canadian military agreed to create a segregated, non-combatant unit. On July 5, 1916, military officials authorized the creation of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, with headquarters in Pictou, Nova Scotia. This construction battalion had about 600 members from across Canada and the northern United States, although more than 300 of these brave souls were from Nova Scotia
This summer's 100th Anniversary ceremony is set for July 9th, being recognized as the biggest yet. The No. 2 Construction Battalion will also be honoured at an anniversary ceremony at the Halifax Citadel Army Museum on July 5th.
JAWAD, ENAS: LITTLE PICASSO - CONGRATS.
HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize Enas Jawad for her artistic accomplishments. Enas, originally from Iraq, is a resident of Halifax Armdale with her husband and children and is the owner of Little Picasso, whose mission is to provide children the opportunity to engage in the creative arts.
On February 22, 2016, on the invitation of Enas, I attended the unveiling ceremony of a commissioned piece of her Islamic artwork at the Halifax Police Station. This was the first work to be displayed as part of Halifax Regional Police Community Outreach. This art piece showcased peace and security.
I ask all members of the House of Assembly to join me in congratulating Enas, and wish her and her family continued health and success.
COLE HBR. C.O.P.: SERV. - ACKNOWLEDGE
HON. TONY INCE « » : Mr. Speaker, I stand to acknowledge the service of the Cole Harbour-Portland Valley Citizens on Patrol. C.O.P. began in the early 1990s and is currently operating under the leadership of the Community Liaison Officer, RCMP Constable Blair Dole.
This is a group of volunteers who support our police force with doing patrols and engaging in various initiatives in our communities - all on their own time.
Two of these fine gentlemen visited my constituency office recently to introduce themselves, Mr. Jim Clayton and Mr. Ralph MacLean. It is with great pleasure that I'd like to thank them for their tireless hard work and their commitment to the community.
NEWCOMBVILLE GIVES BACK - FUNDRAISING
HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege to attend and emcee the Newcombville Gives Back fundraiser in support of the United Way of Lunenburg County. Newcombville Elementary School has organized this event for the last several years as a way to give back to their community, allowing students to learn valuable lessons, such as giving of one's self without expecting anything in return.
A musical evening with various acts, such as Newcombville's own school choir, entertained the large crowd. A great attendance was on hand and much-needed funds for the Lunenburg County Branch of the United Way were raised.
Thank you to the organizers, teachers, and students of Newcombville Elementary School - this was a great way to spend a Friday evening.
FAIRVIEW FAM. RES. CTR. - PARENTING JOURNEY PROG.
MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the staff at the Fairview Family Resource Centre and the vital role they play in the Fairview-Clayton Park constituency. Recently the Fairview Family Resource Centre was the recipient of a new program entitled Parenting Journey, a part of Stronger Families Nova Scotia, which is a provincial expansion of support for parents and children.
On behalf of the Minister of Community Services, I had the pleasure of making this important announcement on February 18th. Being part of the Parenting Journey program is important to the Fairview Family Resource Centre because it means they will be able to work with families earlier so they can identify problems, identify strengths, and find solutions before more serious situations develop.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the important work and nurturing environment of the Fairview Family Resource Centre and thank them for all they do.
BERGENGREN CREDIT UNION - AMALGAMATION/MAKEOVER
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, there have been a lot of positive changes at an important Antigonish institution over the past few months. The Bergengren Credit Union has undergone a transformation in more ways than just one. In November 2015 the East Coast Credit Union and the Bergengren Credit Union voted in favour of amalgamating the two organizations. The new partnership officially began on January 4, 2016.
Besides the change in name, members walking into the Main Street branch in Antigonish may notice another big change - the space has been completely transformed with the help of a major renovation. With an open concept and a focus on providing a comfortable space for members and staff, it's already hard to remember what it used to look like. The new makeover and the new partnership were both celebrated in March with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Members were encouraged to stop in over the course of the day to see the new space, meet with staff, and be entertained with some musical guests.
Even with all the changes, Mr. Speaker, I know that the credit union in Antigonish will continue to be an important cornerstone of our community. Antigonish has a strong history with the credit union system, and I look forward to seeing how the new transformations help strengthen this bond.
LIONS CLUB SPEAK OUT COMP. - DETAILS
The purpose of the Speak Out competition is to provide students with an opportunity to think about important community events, to organize their thoughts and ideas, and to present them effectively in public.
In Bedford young people from Charles P. Allen High School and the local 342 Bedford Lions Royal Air Cadet Squadron faced off in February. Congratulations go to the winner, Hyunseo Cho, who spoke on envy, and who was selected to continue on to the regional Speak Out competition in Sackville earlier this month. A tip of the hat goes out to the other students who competed - Saul Hughes, Madeline Biso, and Isaac McPherson.
The winner of the Sackville competition then goes on to the provincial competition, which was held during the provincial Lions conference in Baddeck on April 30th. A big thank you goes out to Lions Clubs across Nova Scotia for their support of this competition and so many other worthwhile causes.
14 ORANGES SOFTWARE INC. - WELCOME
HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome 14 Oranges Software Inc. to Halifax, which will be working out of Volta Labs in our downtown - 14 Oranges is a smartphone app developer based out of Vancouver.
They just recently opened a Halifax office in Volta, their goal being to provide eastern touch points for their company. It's also inspiring to see that they will be working out of Volta Labs, which is a local community hub that helps develop start-ups and supports frameworks. As our government always encourages innovation, it's nice to see a successful company utilizing a staple of Halifax's start-up community.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS
EECD: SCH. BUSES - TRAFFIC PASSING LAWS
HON. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. The Nova Scotia School Boards Association have concerns about dangerous driving where motorists fail to stop for school buses. There have been 1,100 incidents alone so far this school year of motorists failing to stop for school buses. Dangerous driving and failure to stop put children at risk. It should not take a tragic incident to begin to tackle this problem.
My question is, what is the minister doing to improve the safety of Nova Scotia children by addressing this very serious problem?
HON. KAREN CASEY » : Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member. The member raises a very important and serious issue. All across our province, unfortunately, we have infractions where motorists do not respect the law. They pass school buses with flashing lights and they pass school buses with the stop sign out, and it seems that those numbers are increasing. The Pupil Transportation Conference, of which the member speaks, is one that I've attended almost every year, and every year it comes up as a concern.
What we're trying to do is educate the public that it is breaking the law. I maintain that it is not the responsibility of the school bus drivers to enforce that law. They can report what they see, but their job is the safety of kids on the bus.
MR. MACLEOD « » : I want to thank the minister for her answer, Mr. Speaker. It is very troubling that the laws around stopping for school buses are being ignored. One of the problems that has been identified is that there's a lack of conclusive evidence to prove the offence. Some bus drivers have suggested that equipping buses with cameras that can capture the offence and vehicle's licence plate on video might help.
My question to the minister is, has the minister had any kind of discussion with the Minister of Justice concerning the need to better enforce this part of the Motor Vehicle Act, including the feasibility of installing cameras on some buses?
MS. CASEY « » : Mr. Speaker, the whole notion and the opportunity to put cameras on buses is something that has started in different boards across the province. I've worked with the Tri-County School Board. They have purchased some cameras to put on their buses to record and catch the licence plate or the make of the vehicle or whatever. But you've raised a very important point: enforcement of the current law that we have, we believe, will diminish the number of infractions, and as the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, we recognize that it's important that we have the laws, we have the infractions tracked, and we enforce the laws that we currently have.
MR. MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for her answer. I think this is a situation that is worthy of a lot of consideration and is certainly something that bothers and concerns everybody who drives the roads and has children using buses.
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if there's been any consideration given by the government, to include in licence renewal notices a notice about how important it is to follow the laws when it regards school buses. Those notices are going out, so maybe it's another way to help educate the individuals who are driving. I wonder if that's a consideration of government.
HON. GEOFF MACLELLAN » : I thank the member opposite for the question, Mr. Speaker. As the member had identified, the education piece of these types of rules and all rules of the road regarding road safety, and how we apply that to the motor vehicle functions, and of course through the Department of Motor Vehicles with licensing and the systems that we use to communicate, and ultimately connect with Nova Scotians.
It is an interesting thought. That hasn't been something that we've considered specifically, Mr. Speaker, but I think given the statistics and the information that we have that has been brought forward through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the school boards on the ground, I think it is something worthy to consider. We can certainly check back with the department on that.
PREM.: HEALTH BUDGET - UNDERSPENDING
MS. MARIAN MANCINI « » : Mr. Speaker, for the last two and a half years our health care system has been deteriorating under this government. Meanwhile, this government has been underspending on health care. Two years ago the Health and Wellness budget was underspent by $22 million; last year, it was underspent by $23.9 million. That's more than $45 million underspent in the budget in the last two years.
My question is to the Premier. With wait times up, ER closures up, and many Nova Scotians struggling to find a family doctor, why has the government underspent on the health budget by over $45 million over the past two years?
HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL » : I want to thank health care providers across this province, who are working with our government to transform the health care delivery model to ensure that we're using the resources that we have in the most effective way, delivering the most cost-effective quality care that Nova Scotians have come to expect. We're going to continue to work with them as we work towards ensuring that not only do we continue to have the most professional top-quality care that Nova Scotians expect, but also that we can do so within the fiscal envelope that we have.
MS. MANCINI « » : Last year, many community support groups were devastated by funding cuts by this government. Groups like Eating Disorders of Nova Scotia, the Schizophrenia Society, and the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre all saw reductions in their funding, which has a negative impact on the vital work that they do in local communities.
I ask the Premier, if there were millions of dollars underspent in the Health and Wellness budget, why did his government cut funding to so many community support groups?
THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question, and I want to thank all those organizations across the province that continue to work with successive governments to be able to deliver services in communities from one end of this province to the other. We all know, Mr. Speaker, that without the help of organizations it would be impossible for any government to be able to deliver the services that we do across this province. We want to thank them for the work that they have done in the past, and we're looking forward to continuing to work with them into the future.
MS. MANCINI « » : The Canada Health Transfer provides long-term, predictable funding for health care and supports the principles of the Canada Health Act. This year, the transfer to Nova Scotia has increased by $47 million - and I will table that.
I ask the Premier, given that the Canada Health Transfer has been increased by $47 million, why has the health care budget been frozen for the second year in a row?
THE PREMIER « » : I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I know we have been going through the Budget Estimates in the last week or so, and we'll continue to do so for the next week. The reality is, as she would know, there were things that were in last year's health care budget that are now in the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. There are a number of full-time equivalent people who we moved out to the health authorities. So she knows that actually there has been an approximately $40-million increase in the health care budget in terms of delivering services to the people of this province.
She does raise a very important point - when health care funding went on a per capita basis, it impacted aging populations like Nova Scotia's and, indeed, all of Atlantic Canada's. I hope that she will continue to work with the Minister of Health and Wellness as we look to ensure that any future health care dollars that the national government puts on the table reflect the reality of the demographic challenges that Atlantic Canada faces.
PREM. - BAY FERRIES: CONTRACT - RELEASE
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, Portland City Council met last night to approve their contract with Bay Ferries. They met in a public place, they approved their contract in public, and the entire contract they have with Bay Ferries is available on the Internet for all to see. Clearly, Portland has nothing to hide.
Will the Premier of Nova Scotia release the full contract between his government and Bay Ferries, including the management fee - following Portland's lead?
THE PREMIER « » : Again, I want to thank the citizens of our province who have worked continually to tell us how important that international link is to the province. I want to thank Bay Ferries, who have working diligently with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to continue to make sure that that service is there. We're looking forward to the summer to welcome our American tourists, so that we can continue to see the kind of growth we saw last year in the tourism sector.
Clearly, Portland is happy with their deal. No wonder - they don't have to pay a cent, while the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are on the hook for over $100 million over the term of the agreement they have. And they're not even allowed to see the whole agreement. What we did learn yesterday is that there are nine blackout days during the sailing season where there will not be a ferry. Has the Premier calculated the cost of those nine blackout days to the people of Nova Scotia?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. It's not a $100 million deal. I'm very grateful for the work the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has done with our partners. We have very conservative numbers when it comes to ridership. We will review that number when it comes up, which will reduce the exposure of the Province of Nova Scotia. There's a review at year two for the people of Nova Scotia to have a look on a go forward basis to make sure that we continue to have that service, that international link here in the province.
Mr. Speaker, I'm actually encouraged today to listen to the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party stand up and ask about the fact that there will be a loss of revenue when the boat is not running because he is finally now starting to admit there is revenue in the Province of Nova Scotia.
MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, the taxpayer is on the hook for at least $100 million. It's going to be more. Every day we find something new that is going to cost them but the Premier cares so little about the amount that is being thrown at this service that they haven't even looked at how much those nine blackout days are going to cost.
Now it turns out that Portland can add more blackout days any time it wants, by giving notice to the province, even in the current season. So for all those tourist operators who are planning for this summer, for all those ticket buyers who are out there, they can never know for sure when that boat is going to run. All we know is that it is $100 million.
How does the Premier explain to the tourist operators and ticket buyers that we need to keep it to at least $100 million, that we don't have the boat every day that we need it?
THE PREMIER « » : Again I want to remind the honourable member that no matter how many times he repeats a statement that it is not true, Mr. Speaker, it's simply not true. It's not $100 million at two years. It's a two-year opportunity we're looking forward to continuing to work with our partners (Interruptions)
Mr. Speaker, we are continuing to work with our partner to ensure that that service is there in the long run, and let me tell you, every single small business operator that I talked to is positive about that direction.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: CONTINUING CARE RISK MITIGATION - CUTS
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, there is a serious issue related to safety and security in our province's long-term care system. Health care professionals and other stakeholders are calling on the minister for an enhanced long-term care safety. The Minister of Health and Wellness cut $1.3 million from Continuing Care Risk Mitigation in the budget for this year.
Mr. Speaker, a cut of more than $1 million to Continuing Care Risk Mitigation means staff and seniors are placed at risk. I'd like to ask the Minister of Health and Wellness, how does cutting $1.3 million to the Continuing Care Risk Mitigation support the safety of Nova Scotian seniors and staff in long-term care facilities?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm getting quite used to that theme from the Opposition, that more money and money alone solves our problems. I'm pleased to say that working very closely with Janet Hazelton and the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, we will now put in place a coordinator to look at a five-year action plan that will do much stronger professional development to make sure that staff and also patients are safer in nursing homes across the province.
MR. DAVID WILSON « » : So I guess the minister is saying that that coordinator is free, it's a volunteer, if he's not investing in it. We're asking him to invest in long-term care and the safety of not only the patients but the health care providers.
Last Fall the Community Governed Organizations task force put forward several recommendations that would support a more safe and efficient long-term care system. The recommendations included a call for additional training for front-line staff to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. That requires an investment.
The minister may believe that a 1 per cent reduction in funding to long-term care facilities will not impact services but he is wrong, Mr. Speaker. We know that less money means less staff training for front-line health care providers.
Mr. Speaker, when can Nova Scotians expect the minister to act on the recommendations made by the task force last Fall? We don't have five years.
MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, the 1 per cent reduction is going to be captured by nursing homes doing more co-operative purchasing with insurance, with supplies, sharing services for the first time will allow those efficiencies. What I can tell the member opposite and all Nova Scotians is that the action plan will come here very quickly, as solutions are being provided by staff.
The recommendations in the Broken Homes report, the 15 are exceptionally strong and we will use those to lay out a plan that will have much safer working conditions for all staff and patients in our nursing homes.
PREM. - MUSKRAT FALLS DELAY: POWER RATES - EFFECTS
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Premier. A report submitted today to the URB predicts that our power rates will go up because of delays at the Muskrat Falls project. It says that not only will we be paying for the Maritime Link but we are going to have to find another source of power and pay for that as well, since the delay means there will be no electricity to flow through the link.
Just last week the Minister of Energy assured us in the House that ratepayers are not involved in the link project in any way. Well, they certainly are if they have to pay for it and there is no electricity to flow through it because of the delay.
Hopefully the government knows about this. I would like to ask the Premier how much will our power rates go up because of the delay in Muskrat Falls?
HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question and I am proud to tell all Nova Scotians that for the first time we have seen a reduction in our rates; we have seen rate stability across our province. I do not believe there has been another Premier able to stand up in this House and say he has seen power rates go down and rate stability over the next number of years, and we are looking forward to continuing to see that work happen.
MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, that is just empty rhetoric. The government had the gall to bring in a rate stability plan with no idea whether the rates would actually go up or not. I hear what the Premier is saying but with all due respect, this is what was reported at the URB: Nova Scotia Power has assumed that it will start paying for the Maritime Link and its associate energy on January 1, 2018, regardless of the amount of energy actually available at that time. Nova Scotia Power will have to provide replacement energy for deliveries not made because of the Muskrat Falls delay. In effect, therefore, ratepayers would pay twice for that energy until deliveries from the link commence.
My question to the Premier is when will he bring in a real plan for power rate relief instead of the increases that are obviously coming our way as a result of the URB decision today?
THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, once again, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is simply wrong. Nova Scotians are in a position where they have rate stability. Actually, what the report said was that there would be a delay and everyone who had been actually paying attention and been listening to facts would have known that delay is already in place. They would have also known that the costs associated with this project have been used by the Utility and Review Board in setting rates on a go-forward basis. When the energy comes in, it would be displacing other forms of energy that are currently being used inside of this province. The fact of the matter is he should get over it - power rates are stable.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - SCHOOLS:
MENTAL HEALTH - KUTCHER MODEL
Dr. Stanley Kutcher has laid out a compelling model for early, school-based intervention with youth. It involves improving mental health literacy and identification of mental illness in schools and connecting those youth who need it to the right primary health care.
My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to implementing Dr. Kutcher's model for early, school-based intervention for all schools and students in Nova Scotia?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Pictou Centre. I know that with his education background he has a great understanding of the needs of junior high and high school students, in fact all students in our school system. I am very pleased to say that in the three budgets that I have been here in the House for, we have added to the School Plus program in a very significant way knowing that on the advice of Dr. Kutcher, doing as much as possible in the early years is absolutely critical. We are certainly under way with that and we know that there is more to do and more to come from this government, as far as supporting students in school.
MR. DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, helping young people earlier is the right thing to do. Even with recent funding we are only touching the surface of this problem in our schools. Identifying young people who are struggling with, or at risk of, mental illness and providing them with earlier interventions will give them a better chance to succeed. We also must support our teachers; they are often in the front lines of these situations.
My question to the minister is, will the minister commit today to provide access to in-school health services, including mental health services by qualified health professionals to all students in Nova Scotia?
HON. KAREN CASEY « » : Thank you to my colleague for the setup here. But to respond to the member opposite, and it is a serious issue, we recognize that many children are coming to our schools with anxieties. They're seeking support; they're not often comfortable talking. So what we're trying to do in our schools, under the direction and through the work of Dr. Stan Kutcher, is to provide mental health clinicians in our schools so that those children who need the support of a professional will have access to that.
We've expanded, as we've said, the SchoolsPlus - we have now over 200 schools that are part of a SchoolsPlus network, but we recognize most importantly that we need a professional who can provide support, advice, and consultation, with the children involved and that's why we have mental health clinicians hired through the Department of Health and Wellness with funding from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: LIFEFLIGHT CERTIFICATION - PUBLIC AWARENESS
HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, on Friday we learned that the LifeFlight helicopter, operated by Emergency Health Services, doesn't have the certification level required to land on the helipads at the QEII, IWK, and Digby General Hospitals. The Minister of Health and Wellness told reporters that Transport Canada informed EHS of this situation back on April 1st.
So, I'd like to ask the minister, why did he wait almost a month before making the public aware of this situation?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, it was very important to start the whole process of getting a helicopter in place, going through a number of those experiences whereby we would have the ground ambulance picking up a patient and transferring to the Halifax Infirmary and the IWK. We wanted to make sure that that system was going to be absolutely performed in the strongest manner, and that there would be no interruption of care to those who are being transported by a helicopter from some part of the province to those sites.
Rural communities depend on LifeFlight helicopter services. As a result of Transport Canada's recent decision, I understand EHS has launched a new mobile ground transfer unit about six months ahead of schedule. This will add precious minutes to the transfer time of LifeFlight patients until a new helicopter is in place, which could take six to nine months. Some of our most ill and critically injured patients depend on quick access to the care delivered at tertiary care hospitals and the IWK.
I ask the minister, can the minister assure Nova Scotians that his interim plan involving a new ground transfer unit will not compromise patient safety?
MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, having been out to view LifeFlight and those teams, those well-trained teams as the member opposite knows, perform at the highest level of emergency care each and every day. I am pleased to say that since this new change has taken place we've had 25 LifeFlights into the IWK or the Halifax Infirmary; 17 of them were time-sensitive flights and I'm pleased to report that the care was provided and the outcomes the very best. Thank you.
FIN. & TREASURY BD.: CRAFT BREWERS - TAX DISPARITY
MR. ANDREW YOUNGER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Craft brewers in the province want to know why they're being taxed more than craft distillers and wineries in the province. Craft breweries pay 50 cents for every litre that they sell directly, whereas distillers and wineries pay 5 per cent of wholesale - about 20 cents a litre - so they are paying double what their counterparts are. Many craft brewers say that if they had equal treatment, they could hire more staff. The minister is aware of this issue, as apparently he and his staff have met with the industry three times since December and told them to wait for the budget.
The budget is here and the taxation hasn't been equalized. Why were craft brewers told to wait for the budget, and why are they still being treated differently from wineries and distillers?
HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : I thank the member for the question. It's a great opportunity to highlight the confidence and the support that we do provide for the craft brewers in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.
We've seen the expansion of the craft brewing industry in communities across the Province of Nova Scotia. Indeed, in my own riding of Antigonish, I'm pleased to note that we have the smallest craft brewpub in the province, which they proudly highlight at their facility, the Townhouse.
As far as the actual RSMA, which the member is referring to, and the conversations we had with the representatives, what I'd indicated is they came in to meet with me prior to the budget. Like many stakeholders raising requests at that time, I did advise them that they would be considered through the budget process.
MR. YOUNGER « » : Well, like the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, I have a craft brewery in my riding of Dartmouth East. With us in the gallery, Danny O'Hearn is one of the owners of Nine Locks Brewing. Mr. O'Hearn has invested $1.7 million in his operation and, with no government assistance, now employs 11 people. I'm sure that's a similar story to many craft brewers; one of the other government members mentioned one earlier. They are predominantly young people, as it happens.
Mr. Speaker, will the minister explain why, despite his government telling the industry to wait for the budget, the end result was still a significant difference in treatment between not just craft brewers and wineries but craft brewers and distilleries as well - so it's the only sector there that is receiving different treatment. Can he confirm a date by which he will make the changes to ensure that they are treated the same?
MR. DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate again, as the member mentioned, the growth of the craft brewery industry is continuing under the current framework that we have in the Province of Nova Scotia. We're very proud of the work of the entrepreneurs, as mentioned - the many young people across the province putting their skills to use in many cases. In some of these craft breweries you're seeing engineering students putting together their skills in an entrepreneurial fashion, bringing together traditional craft brewing within the province. It's great to see.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the specific question there and the RSMA fund, I want to highlight that there were many requests brought forward to the government on behalf of the Craft Brewers Association. We are considering many requests, not just the one specific one, so at this point in time we don't have a specific date defined.
I'm not prepared to give one today, because it would be poor governance to move forward or make commitments on moving forward with the program when we don't have all the details worked out. We continue to review the requests, and we'll make the decision when appropriate.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - ABERDEEN HOSP.:
MENTAL HEALTH UNIT - CLOSURE
HON. PAT DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. The closure of Aberdeen Hospital's short-stay mental health unit is a devastating loss to our community. People were led to believe that this was only temporary, and now they learn that that was completely misleading.
This morning on CBC Radio, Linda Courey, senior director of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said the final fate of the Aberdeen mental health unit won't be known until more province-wide decisions are made about providing mental health care. This is no way to treat our community.
My question to the minister is, why did the minister tell the community one thing and then do the complete opposite?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : When the unit first closed due to insufficient personnel, human resources for it - as it was investigated, it was discovered that it wasn't a certified mental health short-stay psychiatric unit. It didn't meet those standards of care. Looking at alternatives, both in the community and in neighbouring Truro, where there's a very strong team of psychiatric and psychology services available to residents of that area, I certainly have the assurance that there is good community mental health in Pictou.
MR. DUNN « » : Mr. Speaker, mental health support is not better in Pictou County. In fact mental health doesn't even seem to be a priority for this government. People are suffering. Some people are having to go as far as Yarmouth and Cape Breton for admission. To make matters worse, people feel they were misled.
My question to the minister is, will the minister finally admit that he made a mistake and commit to reopening the Aberdeen short-stay mental health unit immediately?
MR. GLAVINE « » : That was not an appropriate short-term psychiatric unit. People flowed through the unit each day on their way to other hospital services. There were many, many aspects of that unit that would have had to undergo tremendous change. We now know that in the community we have top-flight psychiatric services. People have moved across the province, depending on their assessments. We know that for the people of Pictou, and what I have heard from Dr. Vienneau and others, the right decisions and the right course of action for the future is well in hand.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - LIFEFLIGHT: ELIMINATION - MIN. AWARENESS
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : I'll pick up on the LifeFlight helicopter once again. We know from that announcement, from those changes to the LifeFlight helicopter, that it can no longer land at the IWK, the QEII, or the Digby Hospital. The minister has said a couple of things along the way. Whether he found out on April 1st or whether he was blindsided on this, I just wonder what the debate has been or what kind of information was provided to the minister on when this was going to happen.
Can the minister enlighten us on when he actually found out that the LifeFlight helicopter would not be able to be used as it was planned?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : It was on the afternoon of April 1st that EHS in fact found out that on April 1st they had to eliminate flights into the IWK, the Halifax Infirmary, and Digby General. Within about 48 hours I was meeting with the EHS team to get the information as to why the flights could no longer go to those facilities - the new standards that Transport Canada had put in place now require this change.
MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : What troubles me throughout this discussion is, at what point did Canadian Helicopters or our provider actually inform the minister or the department that their helicopters would not be able to be used in the way that had been done in the past? We know that we need a service that is available to patients 365 days a year, and apparently because of the age of the helicopter and the new regulations, it is not.
So my question to the minister is, knowing everything that he does know today, what is going to be the added cost to this program as Canadian Helicopters or EHS has to go out and source another helicopter?
MR. GLAVINE « » : What I can tell the member opposite, and all Nova Scotians, is that this is a first-rate service for Nova Scotians. Many lives are saved because of this service. At the same table, when I found out what was taking place, I gave an immediate directive to go into procurement of the next generation of a helicopter. We know that this a service that must be provided and our government will support the procurement and the new lease.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: NORTHSIDE GEN. HOSP. - STAFF CONSULTATION
MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : My question is also for the Minister of Health and Wellness. The pain clinic at the Northside General is undergoing some transitions because the lead physician is looking at retirement. The physician is looking at succession plans, but has been told by the Health Authority that the level of staff currently employed is not needed. The clinic sees 80 per cent of the pain patients in the area, but only 20 per cent are being seen at the regional hospital. The clinic employs two well-trained and capable nursing staff who assist the physician.
My question to the minister is, has the minister done any consultation with staff at the Northside General Pain Clinic to ensure that the level and quality of care will be met after the clinic changes hands?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : What I convey to the member for Northside-Westmount is that we can assure everybody in that area who uses the pain clinic that there will be no disruption in service. He is absolutely right - they have a couple of top-flight providers, both in terms of doctors and nurses and support staff. All of the supplies, all those areas will be supported to the same extent.
MR. ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, we know physician recruitment can be difficult, especially in Cape Breton. Northside General has consistently been overlooked and unable to offer the services needed by the general public. As of now we are lucky enough to have an esteemed doctor and dedicated physician to manage this facility.
The people of Cape Breton need to know that the clinic will be able to handle the volume of staffing levels in the same high quality of care. Again my question to the minister, what are you doing to guarantee that that volume of quality of care will be provided at the Northside General and not at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, so people won't have to travel to receive the services?
MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, if it's an 80/20 split currently, obviously there are a lot of people travelling in one direction for care now. What I can say is that the doctor referenced here is interested in applying for the directorship of the entire pain clinic and its management in the Cape Breton area. I'm pleased to hear he is staying on for the time being.
I know that recruitment is certainly top of mind for the NSHA, to make sure that support to patients with chronic pain have their needs met.
HEALTH & WELLNESS:
SEXUAL ASSAULT NURSE EXAMINER PROG. - UPDATE
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, last May the Minister of Health and Wellness promised that a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program would be up and running in Sydney by the Fall of 2015. He said at the time that the team would include as many as 16 registered nurses with specialized training. He also committed to establish a SANE site in western Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, it's one year later and we now know that this is yet another broken promise but this time a broken promise to survivors of sexual assault. My question is, how can the minister justify not acting on his promises to survivors of sexual assault?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I think it's about six months and not a year since I was in Sydney to hear from people who were interested in setting up and being part of the sexual assault clinic. Where she received the information on 16 nurses is certainly not in any notes that I provided or information orally in that area.
What I'm pleased to say is that the RFP has gone out for the SANE program in Cape Breton, as well as for the western part of the province. One of the areas that we discovered needed a lot of work, while we have a great clinic in the Avalon sexual assault centre, we also needed to review the criteria in setting up a new facility.
MS. ZANN « » : Well actually it was a year, in fact it was written about on May 20th last year in the Sydney newspaper and they mentioned that he had said that the team would include as many as 16 registered nurses. I'll table that.
Mr. Speaker, the minister can talk about his RFP or re-announcement of money as much as he likes but it doesn't change the fact that he made a promise to survivors of sexual assault and he has broken it. It has been a whole year since the minister made commitments to women and to men across Nova Scotia that they would not be forced to travel for hours to see Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
Mr. Speaker, we've waited long enough and the inaction by government is inexcusable. My question is, when will the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program be expanded to the underserved areas of Nova Scotia?
MR. GLAVINE « » : What I'm pleased to say is that it's not just these two areas now that we are addressing, we actually have hired a provincial coordinator who will look at the SANE programs and other related services for those suffering from sexual assault. In fact we will see expansion of this program and related services across Nova Scotia. We know that this will be provided during this fiscal year.
HEALTH & WELLNESS: NURSING HOME INCIDENTS
- CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR EXPERT
Recently, the number of deaths caused by violence in nursing homes has been made public. Of course, many of these incidents are attributed to those suffering with dementia-related or other mental health issues, and the families of those people are very concerned. One death caused by another is certainly one too many, we know that. The reports produced on the incidents indicated that the challenging behaviour expert employed by the province was not made use of in cases where a resident had violent tendencies. I'm going to table that.
My question is, will the minister be changing the policy so that all nursing homes and residential care facilities are required to make use of the challenging behaviour expert going forward?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : I thank the member for a very, very important question that he has brought here to the floor of the Legislature today. This is an area that is perhaps long overdue in being fully addressed.
What I can tell the member opposite and all Nova Scotians is that whenever there is a major event, a very serious incident - not just one that has caused a death - all of these are investigated, recommendations are made, and there is a follow-up to see that the recommendations were put into effect. Also, there is an unannounced visit to review those recommendations that were made.
MR. HARRISON « » : The Nurses' Union has expressed concern about the number of staff that are on duty at the many facilities, citing that more staff would make things safer. I have talked to a few nurses who were backed into corners and physically harmed. The government has invested in more training programs for violence de-escalation this year, but there are no signs that this will necessarily address staff safety and staffing levels. Will the minister include staffing level plans and a prevention plan that all Nova Scotians can feel safe about?
MR. GLAVINE « » : I thank the member for that important question. I have met with Janet Hazelton on this issue specifically and only, as well as the deputy minister, as well as staff. We certainly see that the 15 recommendations brought forth in the Broken Homes report are going to be prioritized. I asked that those ones involving staff safety get the utmost attention.
We are now in the process of developing a five-year action plan that will indeed reduce the number of incidents and make the workplace safer. It's also where the WCB has the highest number of claims relating to health care. We know we have to address it, and are pleased to be working with nurses and all staff to make that work environment safer.
EECD: FRANK H. MACDONALD SCH. - P-8 RENOVATIONS
MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : My question is for the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. The East Pictou Middle School has reached the end of its life. It's been through a school review process, and the community agreed unanimously, and the board also agreed, that the middle school should be closed and renovations be done to Frank H. MacDonald to convert Frank H. MacDonald into a P-8 school. This project has been a top priority of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board for the last couple of years. It seems like everyone agrees, except maybe the department.
My question for the minister is, does the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development support those renovations to Frank H. to convert it to a P-8?
HON. KAREN CASEY « » : Thank you for raising the question. I believe it came as a question last time we were sitting in the House. I know the facility, and I know the work that was done at W.A. MacLeod, and I believe that the board wants to follow a similar model when they move into F.H. I know that the board has submitted that and the process that has been followed is that boards identify those, we look at our capital plan, and we look at where, when, and how we can accommodate some of those requests.
I would say to the member that the process to date has been followed. The decision about when and how that is responded to will be forthcoming.
MR. HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that response. The concern in the community is time is ticking. It has been a couple of years now this has been a top priority of the board. We haven't seen any action upon it, and the school review process has a shelf life. With every year that passes, that shelf life gets a little shorter and there's a risk here now that this could have to go back through another school review process. Certainly, people in the community don't want that; they want to move forward with the renovations to Frank H. MacDonald.
I would see if I can pinhole the minister a little bit on when we might see something from the department as to how this could happen.
HEALTH & WELLNESS - MIDWIFERY SERV.: EXPANSION - TIMELINE
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Health and Wellness. A report commissioned by the Department of Health and Wellness indicated a target of 20 midwives by the year 2017. At this time midwifery services are limited to only three sites across Nova Scotia.
When asked in this House, the minister said the Health Authority is now doing a clinical services review and women will have to wait until that is complete before midwifery services are expanded. So, Mr. Speaker, will the minister provide this House with plans to expand midwifery services, a timeline for that across Nova Scotia?
HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for raising a very important topic, a very important women's issue and really, a family issue as many Nova Scotians do want to use midwifery services. We know how strong the prenatal, the birthing, and in particular the post-natal care, that midwifery does provide, especially as an assist to very busy obstetrician/gynecologists. I will rely on that clinical services review, before we make and expand a provincial plan.
MS. ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has actually had difficulty recruiting obstetricians, and many across the province either have, or are retiring. We know that women who have access to midwives experience fewer pre-term births, shorter hospital stays, fewer interventions during labour, and they breast feed more often and longer; I'll table that.
Mr. Speaker, the demand for midwifery services far exceeds the capacity of a very small number of employed midwives. So my question for the minister is, can the minister explain how his government plans to support this expansion and integration of midwifery services across the province?
MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say that where we have those services available - and the one I am most familiar with is on the South Shore of Nova Scotia; that service is used by some families in the Valley where I live - they certainly speak glowingly about the midwives who provide that service. We know that the Nova Scotia Health Authority needs to have the right plan in place, work with the IWK on providing this service across the province, and I think the member opposite will see this unfold.
BUS.: AUDITOR GENERAL'S RATING - EXPLAIN
MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business. Last week the Auditor General's Report came out on the follow-up of the 2012-13 recommendations. In Appendix 1, the Business Department is listed as having a 3 per cent completion rate. That's a very low rate; it's one of the lowest rates of any department.
My question for the minister is, can he explain why his department has received this failing grade and such a low score, given the amount of time since 2012-13 that ERDT, and now the Department of Business, has had to deal with these issues?
HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to take my turn and stand and speak going into Supply. It is always a great opportunity to talk about your constituency, what you are hearing or seeing in your area, what you are hearing from your constituents about the budget, and about things that are generally important to them on government services, of what is important.
The constituency of Argyle-Barrington is one that is a very lucky one - and by lucky, I mean over the last number of years we have seen a dramatic change in the economy when it comes to lobster fishing. You know, if I look at what is the economic driver of southwestern Nova Scotia, it is definitely that of the lobster fishery. It is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy and, of course, to the economy of all Nova Scotia. If I extrapolate that from what we are landing dockside to what is being sold in international markets and the dollars that are coming back into the hands of Nova Scotians and people in southwestern Nova Scotia, it's good to see how those dollars are being reused and being put back into the economy on the purchase of a whole bunch of things.
If I look at how other local businesses that provide supplies, that provide products to our fishermen, they are doing very, very well as well. So I have to say that the 2016 - the 2015-16 season has been one that has been one for the record books. I can say the amount of fish, the amount of lobsters, that are being brought to our shores are nothing short of amazing. If I talk to a number of the fishermen, some are my friends, they are stocking hundreds of thousands of pounds of lobster. They are bringing in tons of it, and if we multiply that by the $6 a pound, which has been sort of the average - we have seen a little high and actually now we are starting to go a little low on that number, but the average has been about $6 a pound, they have done phenomenally well. And this is two years in a row, which is a far cry from where we were, let us say, four or five years ago when the industry was in panic mode because the dollar was such that we were getting $3.75, $4, or even less, for our product.
Now, a lot of things have changed in that time, where that price has gone up - and not one of us can take credit for that here. The American dollar has changed so much over the last couple of years that there is already a built-in margin, if you want to call it that, in the sale of our products to the U.S., which of course is where the majority of that product goes. That compounded with great markets, great markets that are very strong - those in Europe, those in Asia, those of course in the States - the product has been moving very, very swiftly.
We know there have been challenges when it comes to the quality of the product. Something that you do hear - we do hear from the fishermen who are always challenged because of the product that they are bringing home, but what happens, Mr. Speaker, is that the lobster gets in the pot and once that comes to the surface it is really hard for fishermen and others to throw them back. It is hard to tell the quality of that lobster by really putting it in your hand and giving it - because there is such a quantity of that lobster coming ashore it is barely enough to put the bands on it and get it in the crate or get it down below in the live wells to get it home.
You know, it is not until it gets to shore that really you can make that determination of whether or not the lobster is a soft lobster, a full lobster, a big lobster, or what have you. That is the challenge, and I think the challenge to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is such that I know they have been talking about this lobster quality project of providing a training course to the shore, but I think there has to be a broader look at this one in that we do need to talk a little more globally. I think by putting a mandatory course in is not the way to solve this, but I think reaching further out to provide some kind of thoughts of here's what we want to see will go a long way to providing a better product. If we have a better product, of course, we should be able to bring a better price.
You know what actually happens, Mr. Speaker? When they do get to shore, the buyers themselves know full well how to maximize that crate run. When that crate run comes ashore, they know how to go through that crate and separate the sizes, separate the qualities and sell them accordingly to the markets where they are going to get the most amount of money. They know that the high-quality lobster is separated out, shipped off to the live markets around the world and gets those quality prices. Those prices are the ones that you end up seeing on Facebook or the ones that you end up seeing in newspaper articles. Those are the ones that are in the $12, $17, or $21 amount. They are being maximized.
The soft stuff, of course - the shelf life of that product is very low so it is going to the canneries where it can get its maximum benefit to the buyers. The buyers are very capable and very nimble in making sure that product makes it to markets in the correct fashion. We just need to do a little better job making sure that that product coming in is as good a quality as we can possibly bring in.
Mr. Speaker, what I can really say here is that the quality isn't such that people should be so be worried about it but I think what they should be worried about is that there are some dollars and cents that could be left in the pockets of fishermen and buyers. There's more money to be made in this process, and I think that's what we need to continue to work on, especially in the lobster capital of Canada, which of course is my Barrington municipality. They've got the great big signs that say: Welcome to the Lobster Capital of Canada - and I'm sticking to it.
I know there was a good member originally from - the MLA for Shelburne who worked really hard to get those signs up. I thank him and all those who were involved in calling on us being the Lobster Capital of Canada. I also have to make sure we invite everybody out to the Great Lobstermen's Challenge, which I believe is coming up in June. I have to get the dates here, but the Great Lobstermen's Challenge is coming up and I think what I'm going to try to do is - I've already challenged the mayor of Clark's Harbour on the rope competition, to see who can coil the rope in as quick an amount of time as possible. I think I've got this in wraps but I'm not sure, so I have to do some more practising before that time comes.
I know that putting on a survival suit or putting on that other gear is probably not going to be my forte but I'm definitely going to give the rope thing a try. Boy, if you watch those fishermen, if you watch the work they do during the Great Lobstermen's Challenge, whether it is banding or whether it's putting on the gear, it's phenomenal how fast they can do it. Don't forget, they're used to doing it on a deck that moves.
I think we have some of the greatest fishermen alive. I watch the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel quite often and I watch the work they do there and I compare it to the work that my industry does. I would say that our industry is far more dangerous; they do far harder work than any of these TV shows.
I know I watch Cold Water Cowboys on TV sometimes, too, which is more based around seining off Newfoundland and Labrador. I also have to say that that looks like a pretty easy job, compared to the work that I see my lobster fishermen do, or my dragger fishermen do, or my longline fishermen do. It doesn't even compare to the amount of work they have to put in to make money for their families and bring home what they need to bring home. They are my heroes; they will continue to be my heroes for the work they do.
Another issue that I did want to bring up in my final few minutes about this is, as much as the money that comes from our constituency in lobster fishing, the tax base that is created because of it, the taxes that are paid because of it, the one thing that my constituency has asked for substantially of this government has been the addition of a satellite kidney dialysis centre in the community of Barrington or Barrington Passage.
There are a number of individuals who of course, have kidney disease or renal failure, who are travelling to Yarmouth three days a week. That's about 100 kilometres, if not more than 100 kilometres depending on where you're coming from within that side of the constituency, who are travelling through all kinds of weather. We were lucky this year, where the weather wasn't as bad as it had been the last winter but, if you can imagine, for those of you who do know people in renal failure, it is a day effort. It's a day effort where, you know, you go in for your appointment, you're in the chair for a number of hours, you're not feeling super well going in, you're not ready to drive going out, you can't really drive yourself, you have to actually bring someone else along.
So, the thing that we come up with, or the solution to this is actually having a satellite dialysis centre somewhere near Barrington Passage. Whether it's in the Passage itself, or whether it's over at Bayside, I mean I really don't care, but it needs to be somewhere so that people can access it at least three days a week. So that they can get to that lifesaving procedure the three days a week that they do need it, and not have to travel those roads and be so long away from their families.
We made that request to the Minister of Health and Wellness. We made the request to the department and to the renal program. The community was turned down. The community was told, listen, it's not part of our plans right now. It's okay that these individuals travel over the 100 kilometres to Yarmouth, and in some cases even further.
Mr. Speaker, that's unacceptable. I think that when a good process, or a good program, or a good idea is presented to government, one that I can tell you, if there's a fundraising component, that it will be 100 per cent funded by the community. All we needed to hear from the minister was that we like the idea, we'll find a way to make it work for you, but instead we did get the letter that said, no, not right now, and by the sound of it it's not going to be ever if we follow what's going on with the renal program.
This is no different than what was happening in Hants West, when Hants West was trying to get a satellite clinic in their community - they're still running up against that same wall called the renal program. I think it's time that we look at how dialysis is done around this province and come to the conclusion that it is safer, that it is cheaper, and that it is right for the patient that we do it closer to their homes. So they don't have to go all over God's half acre trying to get a lifesaving procedure.
I mean, some of the stories that you hear of people actually having to move, so pulling up stakes out of their community and moving somewhere else so they can get this process done. Pulling away from their families and their support system so they can get it. It's unacceptable, and even worse, I've heard of families having to sell their homes so that they can actually afford a vehicle that is in four-wheel drive, so they can drive in the winter, because they're driving on terrible roads during the winter.
Of course we know what the end is to someone who is on renal dialysis. Unless at some point they are lucky enough to get a kidney transplant, that at some point they end up making the decision whether I'm going to get this, or if I'm good at meeting my maker. I don't want my community to have to make that decision because the government is not forward thinking enough to look at what a satellite dialysis clinic would provide to a community like Barrington, or what it would have for communities like Shelburne, or Digby, or all those areas that are actually having to travel all over our province to get this lifesaving procedure.
Barrington Passage, Barrington, southwestern Nova Scotia deserve a satellite renal dialysis program. It's something I stand for, I will continue to push the minister to make sure that that happens, and I hope that someday there may be a change of heart, a change of heart by that minister and that government, that provides a system for satellite dialysis units across this province.
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : This is an opportunity to address the address in reply regarding the budget process. Just before I get into my notes, Mr. Speaker, I think it's appropriate that I bring up the last QP. In today's QP, 11 questions out of a total 15.5 questions were related to health. I'll use that as a backdrop, knowing the importance of this issue to all Nova Scotians.
I've raised this issue a number of times in this particular session. What I was interested in was what isn't in the budget: the lack of funding for health care and one interesting election promise. This Liberal Premier promised a doctor for every Nova Scotian. This, over the next 14 or 15 minutes, is what this speech is about.
Also during the last year, we saw the dismantling of district health authorities across Nova Scotia. There was a projection of saving $15 million. Guess what? They missed the target, and they're over by $15 million. They also added administration charges to this super health authority.
There's an increase in ER closures. I stand here today, with 11 questions out of 15.5 in the previous QP, and I'm suggesting through you, Mr. Speaker, that this is a serious problem in Nova Scotia. The very first breath that we take and the very last breath that we take - there are a hospital and health care providers involved in both of those two breaths. There's a lot in between. I'll get into the area in my speech that has been affected by this in just the last two years.
My colleague from Sackville-Cobequid has been involved in 13 budgets. I understand his knowledge and expertise. Last night, when I watched him address the budget process and the minister in his line of questions, he suggested a freeze or a cut to health care budgets.
I was interested in the federal discussion that the Minister of Health and Wellness talked about: the Health Accord. It was very interesting; I noted that between the minister and the health board and the member for Sackville-Cobequid, there was discussion about signing a partnership to investigate a new health accord by this October - 2016 - that the minister will be involved in. Hopefully, some of the comments in this session will be taken to that particular meeting in October, and possibly addressing this new health accord.
Universal health care is a source of pride for all Canadians, and when we have an issue of the lack of services in our provinces, it gets my attention. NASA coined a phrase a number of years ago - in 1970, actually - when dealing with a serious issue. I cannot help but think of the ER closures and the doctor shortage across our beautiful province, in places like Lunenburg, Clare-Digby, Cape Breton, Sackville, Shelburne, and other areas, like Pictou. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, that is why, when I'm thinking of NASA's phrase in 1970, I keep going back, and I feel the seriousness of this particular phrase has captured it. I keep thinking of the member for Pictou East: "Houston, we have a problem . . ."
"Houston, we have a problem . . ." was captured around the world. In April 1970, Apollo 13, the meaning of that phrase was a genuine acknowledgement of a report of a life-threatening fault. Now today, many people will use that in a humorous report for any kind of a problem. Mr. Speaker, I suggest that we have a health problem in Nova Scotia. We have a shortage of doctors.
Interestingly enough I went home this weekend - and maybe it is my background of trying to understand distance and time - but I took the time to evaluate the land mass in the communities without ERs or the access to doctors in Nova Scotia. Certainly, there is a considerable amount of land mass. If you calculate the land mass of Cape Breton, Digby, Lunenburg, Pictou, and Shelburne, it is equal to the total distance land mass of P.E.I. Now, that is a considerable amount of territory without doctors or health care.
I would suggest to anyone in that particular geographical area, if you were to suggest to them that in twice the land mass of P.E.I. you do not have a gas station, you do not have phone coverage and by the way in that same area in Nova Scotia, you do not have a doctor, I suggest that you have got a serious problem in your province. What you may say will add to that? There are 1,000 Nova Scotians turning 65 every month and, to inform you, in 27 months and a few days I will join that group.
Nova Scotia is a province with the highest proportions of seniors. Guess where they live? The majority of them live in rural Nova Scotia. By 2026 it is expected that they will be representing one quarter of Nova Scotia's populations. Again, most live in rural Nova Scotia. Remember the promise? Let us refresh your mind. This Liberal Premier on the eve of election said every Nova Scotian will have a doctor. Well, he has failed. I am standing here telling you that he has failed; and, it is not only me.
Interestingly enough, when I go home this weekend, on my coffee table in front of me, my place where I watch some sports games, there are some papers there and one of the papers was the Tri-County Vanguard of last week; and I could not believe my eyes. It was not just me about this idea, it was people in the Digby area. I am going to quote from that particular article. This is dealing with health care and it was in the April 19 edition of the Tri-County Vanguard, talking about a health care meeting:
"The meeting organizers made it clear [this] was an opportunity for ordinary citizens to share their concerns and issues. Although there were many elected officials and representatives from the health authority present, they were encouraged not to speak. They listened as people shared their frustrations and anger . . . Speakers expressed a sense of disenfranchisement and a strong feeling that the authorities and the politicians had become deaf to the needs of the area. Many expressed a determination to turn this situation around."
So, it is not only the member from Queens-Shelburne who has a concern, it is a number of people from across this province. To me, this is what we need to deal with. I have not for the life of me seen anyone from the government side stand up and address this.
Also, this weekend, I had an opportunity to get a message from a private citizen. I will not reveal the personal information but I will paint this scenario for the members of this Chamber. This was a young wife who had a sick child early in the morning. That individual - I will paint another scenario - that individual may have lived in Lockeport. The family located in Lockeport, had a sick child, her husband was out lobster fishing that day, I think we all paint the picture very clearly. The mother drove the child to Roseway Hospital this weekend and guess what, Mr. Speaker?
AN HON. MEMBER: What happened when they got there?
MR. BELLIVEAU « » : It was closed. Now every person here, a parent, realizes what the message says on the machine, call 911. And follow the procedure, Mr. Speaker, go to the nearest regional hospital. She drives to Yarmouth Regional Hospital and this is the punchline, and it's not funny, that individual, that mother with a sick child waited - get this - nine hours to see a doctor.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of spending some time on a volunteer ambulance. One of the things I recall is the golden hour - has anybody been taking the time from the time the lady left Lockeport, talked to her husband on the VHF, drove to Roseway Hospital, then drove on to Yarmouth Regional Hospital, waited nine hours - and let's not forget the golden hour. I think we can say that yes, we have a problem.
Mr. Speaker, this budget, 2016, has failed to address the doctor shortages and ER closures across Nova Scotia. The super Health Authority that has been established in the last year has failed the citizens of Nova Scotia, and the district health authorities that were dismantled have lost their voice in rural Nova Scotia.
The Premier promised - I repeat, promised - that every Nova Scotian would have a doctor and has failed, in two and a half years has failed to deliver. This budget has failed to deliver, to address the issues. And with a new group found in Digby, the possibility of addressing this because the local government - the local MLAs have failed to address the issue. We have a problem; we certainly have a problem.
Mr. Speaker, all I can say is it is a complete failure and we need to do better. (Interruptions) Well I can see that the members opposite, it may be the heckling from the members for Yarmouth or Clare-Digby, I'm not clear, but when I want to silence their voice, if they want to heckle me about health care, all I have to do is mention a few words. Some of those words, when the heckling comes out their voices mysteriously become silent. Some of those words are - offshore oil and gas, the word "dispersant", silence; the words "lobster handling course" and they become silent; the words "federal funding for the new Yarmouth ferry", they become silent; and the words that we just learned in the last 24 hours are "blackout dates", and mysteriously they disappear (Interruptions)
MR. BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, I think I have their attention. The last phrase I have are the words "blackout dates." When I mention any of those sequences of words, they disappear, their voices becomes silent and they disappear like the morning fog in the Bay of Fundy on a very sunny, nor'west day. Thank you very much. It is magical. Have a nice day.
I'm really happy to have an opportunity to stand up and speak on the Supply motion today. This is the two and a half year mark of our government, and the third budget that we've brought forward and they've all been pretty interesting budgets, to say the least, with different experiences attached to them. But every time we're at this point in the Legislature, I reflect back on the years that brought me to running for office.
For this particular budget, I reflected quite a bit on my time in education and working from an educational background. There are a number of things in this budget that I feel really proud about and proud to be a part of. It's important to me to make sure that they are celebrated in a realistic way.
For starters, from my educational background, I saw first-hand the importance of early intervention with our young people. The sooner you could get to a child, identify their needs, and bring supports to them and to their families, the more successful they would be. All of the research is there; that is how it works. If we can get to our kids early enough, if we can give them supports, if we can make sure that they and their families are supported, then they're going to have a brighter future than if they are left to wallow in whatever it is that is harming them or preventing them from reaching their full potential.
Our investment of $3.6 million more to help preschool-aged children with autism is going to mean the world to these children and to these families. Families with autistic children would be the first to tell you that early intervention and supports are key to the future successes of their children. It doesn't matter where they fall on the spectrum: if we are able to identify and engage and support our kids, our educators, and our families, you're going to find a child who has a brighter future. That's the way it is.
I have to say, though, when we think about being an MLA and why we're an MLA, this is what we want. We want our kids to have successes. All 51 of us sitting around here believe in the best possible future for our province. To see that we have investments that are starting with our young people and being proactive - not just being reactionary to a situation but looking at how we can, from the front end, get to our young people and help them become fulfilled and productive members of our province, of our population - is really meaningful to me. We do that.
We do that with the funding that we've put into this budget for our autistic children, but also in our $6.6-million investment for our child care. All of our kids need the best start possible, and our early childhood educators need to be valued for the important work that they do.
Under the direction of our Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, what we believe to be one of the first reviews of our daycare system took place. There was no other review on record, and our minister took the charge to make sure that this happened. The findings were pretty substantial, and our minister was quick to act on them.
The report focused on five really important areas that needed to be enhanced. Those were affordability, accessibility, looking at the workforce, looking at governance, and curriculum.
I have so many friends who, over the years, have had to make pretty agonizing decisions as to what their families were going to look like - having one child as opposed to more than one, because they couldn't afford child care, or deciding to leave their careers in order to have two or three children. Most of the time it was my female friends, but there were many times when it was also my male friends who had to make the choice to stay at home.
We all came from careers prior to this. When you leave a career for three, four, or five years, until your children are school-aged and you no longer need child care, that can be a death sentence in a number of careers. That impacts the entire dynamic of a family. That impacts our economy. That impacts our communities as a whole. Besides the fact of having to be put in a position where you have to make that decision because of finances, because you don't have family members who are able to look after your children for you while you go to work, it's more expensive to put two kids into daycare than to collect a second income.
This is a conversation that I've had long before I was in government; these are conversations that have happened over the last 10 years or so that my friends have all been having children and it's coming from all walks of life as well. So to be able to make this investment into our daycare system, to pay our early childhood educators what they deserve - well at least closer to what they deserve - is really remarkable and it's going to help alleviate some of the stresses that I know my friends and my community members have faced.
I know that since we presented the budget, since we tabled the budget I've had a number of my friends and community members come up to me and specifically want to talk about the details of our daycare investments. I'm really thankful that we're doing something that will make things a little bit easier for them. Again, that's what we're here for; we're here to make things easier for the people of our province, whether they elected us or not, whether it's my constituents in Fairview-Clayton Park or my friends who live on the South Shore or who live in Cape Breton or who live in Spryfield. We represent a certain geographical area, but we have connections and we have family and friends who span this entire province. We all try to do what's in the best interests for those who are close to us.
Speaking of tough choices, over the last few years, specifically within the role of this job, I've worked with many individuals and families who are forced to make tough choices on a daily basis. These are choices that are determined because of financial restraints. I've heard a number of people in Opposition scoff at the $20 a month increase for individuals who are eligible for social services - income assistance. I'm kind of confused by that attitude because if anybody has actually had to sit down and budget and look at what a truly fixed income looks like, the addition of a $20 extra infusion a month is going to mean some pretty substantial things for these families, for these individuals.
To look at it from a broader spectrum, instead of just piecing it as $20 a month, when you are budgeting for a full year that's an extra $240 a year that is being given. Again, is it going to solve all the problems? Of course not, but it's going to make things a little bit easier. It's going to mean not having to decide to pay your heat bill or put money down on your heat bill, as opposed to getting milk or eggs for your children. It's going to mean being able to buy vitamins to offset your diet. It's going to mean a little bit of flexibility in trying to promote a healthier lifestyle for yourself and for your family that wasn't there before, that was really reflective of making tough choices day to day and not always knowing what the best choice is to make. That makes me proud to be part of a government that saw that need and was able to invest in it, and saw the potential of these individuals and has made an investment in them.
Going back to my time in education a little bit, another thing that I was focusing on, Mr. Speaker, while looking at this budget were the many years that I spent working with high school students. The bulk of my career before my life in politics was spent in high school talking to the Grade 12 students, being around the Grade 12 students and asking what their plans were and where they were going to go and what they were going to do. A lot of the time finances came into play when it came to being able to afford to go to a college program or a university program. University is extremely expensive. It's an investment in yourself, but it's hard when you're 17 or 18 to see that four years in an undergraduate program is an investment in your future.
Again, making tough choices, needing to decide if they're going to go part time into a program so they can work part time, or if they were going to defer their studies to try to find full-time employment to save enough money to make it happen, or putting themselves into debt through student loans. It's a topic that we talk about quite often in the House and outside of the House.
Under the direction of our Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, every Nova Scotian student who attends a Nova Scotia university receives $1,283 in a bursary for every year that they are enrolled. Again, does it cover the entire cost? No, it's not free tuition, but it is a significant amount of money to put down on the costs associated with being in university.
We have an amazing loan forgiveness program. If you're struggling to pay back your student loans once you've graduated, there are supports in place, supports that I myself was able to take advantage of when I first graduated and was trying to find employment. We need to protect our young people, we need to invest in them; we need to give them the best start possible.
Continuing with my high school students, those who decided to go to college and university, I would try to keep in touch with them and I would follow up and see what they were doing, what their plans were, and a common theme would occur where they weren't able to find employment. There would be jobs in their fields, but there would always be the caveat or the requirement in the job that they needed experience, one to two years of experience, two to five years of experience. Again, through the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, our investment of $3.2 million into the Graduate to Opportunity program is actually giving those newly graduated students the first-time jobs that they need to go into their field.
It's so important, it's how we retain our young people; it's how we give them the start that they need. We can - again, we do debate quite freely in this House all of the different ideas and the different ways we can support our young people but this is definitely a wonderful opportunity for our newly graduated students to be able to stay in the province and work in their field, gain experience in their field, and hopefully create their lives here and be able to retain them here.
So as I said, you know, as we're coming to the end - wow, I guess I did talk for 15 minutes, that's great, yay me. Two and half years, it has been interesting - it has been very interesting - and I have people constantly ask me, what's it like? What do you really think? Are you happy that you did it? Very conspiratorial - they want to get the dirt, they want to know what the real story is, and I think about it. I know that the question is going to come, so I think about what my answer is going to be and it's always the same answer: every day I wake up and I get to help people, and everything else is just noise. I'm very thankful to be here. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to speak, and with that I will take my seat, Mr. Speaker.
[3:34 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CW on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Wilson in the Chair.]
[7:39 p.m. CW on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Kevin Murphy, resumed the Chair.]
It is agreed.
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING
Bill No. 171 - Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Act.
Last week I introduced a bill in the House of Assembly, Bill No. 171, amendments to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Act. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia plays a critical role in how government implements its cultural mandate. Since 1908 it has been a gateway for the visual arts in Atlantic Canada. It is one of the premier art institutions in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is an agency of the Province of Nova Scotia. The gallery's permanent connection is Nova Scotia's art collection. It now includes more than 17,000 works of art. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is located in two heritage buildings in downtown Halifax and in a building in Yarmouth. It is professionally managed and provides an important public service. It deserves the support of this legislation that allows it to do work effectively and efficiently.
Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Act that I introduced last week will give the gallery greater flexibility in its day-to-day operations and improve the efficiency of the gallery in the board's operations and government's administration. They also bring the legislation in line with best public sector management practices.
The amendments update the legislation in three key ways. First, amendments refer to the terms of members of the board of governors. All terms will be for three years. In the existing legislation the term of one member, who is recommended by the visual arts organization, is for one year. Governors are appointed by the Governor in Council and that stays the same.
The second change simplifies the board's power to make bylaws. Right now the Act talks about the types of bylaws the board can make. Legislation for other Crown Agencies allows these boards to make whatever bylaws they need to operate effectively. The Waterfront Development Corporation Act and the Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act are good examples.
Under the proposed amendments the board will be able to make any bylaws it needs to be effective, similar to the ability of other Crown Corporations. Governor in Council still must approve any new bylaws.
The third change makes the gallery's day-to-day operations smoother by allowing them to enter into contracts without Governor in Council approval. Mr. Speaker, no other Crown Agency faces this restriction, and as you know, government has excellent rules and policies in place to ensure it deals with funds appropriately. For example, all leases go through TIR; financial statements are audited every year and audited by the Auditor General as the AG sees fit. None of these practices will change.
Mr. Speaker, these changes allow both the gallery and government administration to be more efficient, and I am proud to bring them forward for consideration of the House. Thank you.
MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his comments. I'm pleased to speak to Bill No. 171. Basically anything that helps the art gallery to do their job more effectively and efficiently, we certainly support. We realize this bill actually is centred around three different functions that will help improve the work they do there. It's a very important institution that preserves and promotes our culture, and I'm really pleased.
I don't know if many have also been to the satellite museum in Yarmouth. That's one thing that I would like to see happen elsewhere within the province. It would be lovely to have one in Cape Breton and perhaps the Town of Pictou, or somewhere more central, along the North Shore.
Anyone that has been next door, of course, as well it is amazing, and I actually was just thinking with it being so close how many of us have recently been there. I know myself it has been a couple of years since I have been there that I have taken my children there and most impressive with the Maud Lewis house of course that is presented there. It is a prime example of how we restore and showcase our history.
It is also really nice to see the programs that are offered for children because it absolutely instills a love and appreciation for our culture and for art. I know myself, not that I am an artist but I have a great appreciation for it, and I do draw, and I love to carve, and I love to play in the mud and do pottery, and I often wish I could have made a living out of one of those things - especially after today exactly, but I do. I try to instill it in my children, and both my children actually draw and paint and have taken art lessons, and anyone who would enter my home, the first wall going up 18 stairs, the whole wall is covered with artwork of my children that I am very proud of. I have taken them to the museum a couple of times, but it has been about two years, two and a half years, just before I was elected I took them actually.
I always say it is art if you are proud of it. We know that it is also a big tourist attraction for the province and that we should continuously promote it.
I have one concern about the bill, and I guess I am just wondering why perhaps the government has not chosen to involve the real estate dealings of the Art Gallery. I think we have to consider what changes in real personal property does this change create, and why do the minister and the Cabinet not want to play a role in that because it is so important. With those few words and that one concern that I hope will be addressed, we look forward to any presentations that may come forward at the Committee on Law Amendments. Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.
MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, I do not know if I want to go into having a pottery career and getting my hands in the mud and making things as my colleague to my right would like to, but I do appreciate good art and I like to buy art whenever I can and support our artists. It is very hard for artists in this economic climate, and I know that many artists are struggling actually. When there is an economic downturn, one of the things that people stop buying is art.
One of my dear friends, Al Chaddock, down in Chester is actually having a very difficult time right now and having to pay some back taxes; so, they took all of his artwork from his studio in order to help pay back taxes and it is just very sad, it is really hard. Artists have some good years some bad years and, you know, my heart goes out to him.
I do have to say that this bill is pretty straightforward, not too much there that changes things other than providing that the members of the Board of Governors of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia are appointed for a term not exceeding three years; I think that makes sense. Also, that a member representing the Visual Arts organization is appointed for a term of one year. It removes some powers of the board but then they are also added somewhere else and adds existing powers of the board so that they will no longer be subject to approval of the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage or the Governor in Council. That is fine because actually I prefer it when art institutions are actually at arm's length from government. Sometimes, I think it would be better for all of the decisions when it comes to art to be arm's length from government officials because sometimes government officials are not really up on their art anyway.
One thing I am concerned about is the fact that $70,000 was cut from the budget for the AGNS this year and also the fact that at one point we were talking about moving the AGNS into a larger building, and there were going to be some donations of large works of art from, say, the Sobey family and people like that. I've stopped hearing anything about that. There's no word about that, so I take it that there's no money for moving the art gallery and increasing it and making it larger. But one good thing is that we now have a Pavia coffee shop there, and I notice that a number of the members are definitely taking advantage of that. I would really recommend that they go a little bit beyond the coffee shop doors and take a look at the art while they're there.
So with that and those few words, I'll take my seat. Thank you.
I was listening to the minister's opening comments, as well as my colleague's comments, that it seems like a simple, straightforward piece of legislation. It is a short bill. What we do know about this government is that things aren't always exactly what they seem to be. It's helpful to sometimes scratch a little below the surface and see what's happening with the legislation.
I thought maybe the minister could give us some perspective in his opening comments about why - where are these changes coming from? Did the minister look at the legislation and decide maybe he could freshen it up? Did the Art Gallery approach him, saying here's some changes we would like made so that we can operate more effectively? That type of perspective is often helpful.
We didn't hear much of that in the opening comments about why - what was driving these changes, and where did they come from? So I'm hopeful that when the minister rises to close second reading at some point later this evening, he might be able to address those issues and may be able to provide a little bit of a backdrop as to what the genesis behind these changes is. I'd be really curious to see if it's because the art gallery reached out to the department and said, we really need some help here, can you give us a bit of flexibility on these things, and asked for those changes.
I did circle back this afternoon in preparation for this and spoke to some people I know who are patrons of the arts and quite involved with the gallery. I asked them if, through their involvements with the gallery, were they aware of these changes to this legislation? They weren't, so I don't know if there have been consultations with prior board members who might say, would it have been helpful to you if your term could've been longer? I don't know what types of consultations have taken place.
I think as we move forward, maybe in his comments the minister can say why. Where are these changes coming from? And maybe he can talk a little bit about who they've consulted with through this process, and then from there we can maybe go forward and ask some of the appropriate questions as this bill moves through the process.
Those are my curiosities, shall we say, about this bill. Hopefully the minister can put them to rest in short order. With those few words, I'll take my seat. Thank you.
The honourable Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.
HON. TONY INCE « » : With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll answer my colleague's question. This was something that all Parties should have done a long time ago. Yes, the art gallery came to us and asked us to do this, to make these changes.
With that, I move to close second reading on this bill.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that the bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
[7:57 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Wilson in the Chair.]
[8:26 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Kevin Murphy, resumed the Chair.]
Bill No. 149 - Mineral Resources Act.
Bill No. 154 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.
Bill No. 160 - Blueberry Associations Act.
Bill No. 161 - Service Dog Act.
Bill No. 162 - Elections Act.
Bill No. 168 - Labour Standards Code.
without amendments; and
Bill No. 158 - Securities Act.
Bill No. 165 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.
which were reported with certain amendments by the Committee on Law Amendments to the Committee of the Whole House, without further amendments, and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House.
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING
Bill No. 152 - Municipal Government Act and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.
The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.
HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the time update. I was going to ask you for that, actually, because I wanted to know where we stood. I appreciate that you volunteered that. It has been a whole day since I adjourned debate on this bill, so it's probably appropriate that I do a recap of the points I have made to date so that every member is up to speed on the points that we were trying to make on this bill.
As I was saying yesterday, it all goes back to the Magna Carta and that great seal put on the Magna Carta by King John signifying that it was an official document that carried the full weight of the country.
You know, Mr. Speaker, it turns out that the process of affixing a seal to official documents actually goes back even further than the Magna Carta. Lucky for us, since we have time to talk about this, we can actually look at the history of these seals.
It turns out that the process of affixing a seal goes back to Old Testament days. There are actually biblical references to the affixing of seals. We're now going back thousands of years. I have a list of all the examples from then until now where they've been used.
It turns out that the use of seals goes back to Roman times. Actually, the first marriage certificates required an official seal from both the bride and groom, who would affix their seals. Then they would take the certificate, put it an envelope, and hide it away for some future generation to find. Isn't that great? Isn't that special, Mr. Speaker, that seals have that kind of history?
Returning to modern times, we have before us a bill with two clauses. One relates to the Municipal Government Act, and the other to an amendment to the HRM Charter. In the explanatory notes to the bill and in the minister's description of it, in each case he referred to the purpose of the bill as being to enable the Halifax Regional Municipality to dispense with the practice of affixing their seal to certain documents like debentures and so on. One wonders what the amendment to the Municipal Government Act is for if this bill only applies to Halifax Regional Municipality. Perhaps, the minister can clear that up for us, when he makes his concluding remarks in third reading.
If this is a new power that the minister wishes the House to grant to all municipalities, then, I think that would be good for us to know. There are a lot of seals out there. There are a lot of these seals, a lot of wax seals, and if we are doing away with all of them, well, we should know that, Mr. Speaker. If it is just Halifax and their seal, that is one thing, but if it is all the seals of the province, that is something else altogether. So I will invite the minister to clear that up when he gets to third reading.
It is funny - I was just thinking of this - we have had several amendments to the HRM Charter come in and we have had on occasion amendments to the Municipal Government Act come before us, but this is a stand-alone bill amending both of those underlying Statutes for this one, very modest thing. I know the government wants to trumpet what a great triumph this is that they are getting rid of the need for a wax seal, but really, it is pretty modest in the greater scheme of things.
You have got to wonder when they were discussing, well let us open up the Municipal Government Act, what are some of the great issues that we should deal with when we open up that Act, the only one that they came up with was to eliminate the need for a wax seal on official documents. The same with the Municipal Government Act - there are lots of things I know that are on the agenda of our municipalities that could have been brought forward if we are opening up the Municipal Government Act. They write to us, they make presentations to us. We were just all at the UNSM provincial-municipal breakfast where their acting president - the Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the Honourable Cecil Clarke - actually listed off some of the priorities of our municipalities.
We know for example that they want the minister to do a review of the cap on municipal assessments. He says he will not do that without the Opposition's permission. It is another power the government is trying to send over to this side of the House. I wish he would just take a stand. Here, we have an opportunity to address an issue like that in law and the wax seal has become a greater priority than this controversial issue that is crying out for leadership from the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
When it comes to our municipalities there is the issue of whether they should have a municipal auditor general. There are many taxpaying residents of Halifax, and really of every municipality, who would like the protection of a municipal auditor general. Certainly, we see the value here in this House of the provincial Auditor General, who reports to the Public Accounts Committee, who has great power to look anywhere he wants to in government to find savings, to ensure that programs are operating efficiently, to make sure that taxpayers are protected, that assets of the province are safeguarded, that programs are operating in a way consistent with their legislative mandate. These are all wonderful things.
That is what the Auditor General of Nova Scotia does. In fact, he is an appointment of this House and he serves a term that is non-renewable so he is completely independent of the government of the day. That is an important protection for provincial taxpayers, municipal taxpayers who pay, in some cases, some of the highest property taxes in the country would also like to have.
Mr. Speaker, when the government decided to open up the Municipal Government Act and deal with some of the burning issues of the day, appointing a municipal auditor general was not among their list of burning issues, but removing the wax seal on official municipal documents, that bubbled to the top. One can only wonder how the government sets its priorities when they see this kind of bill come before the House.
Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of discussion at the municipal level about the need for a fiscal review, not just the once-a-year financial update that we get with green and yellow and red flags for financial indicators, but an actual review. In fact it's one of the Ivany report recommendations - I believe it's Goal 18 that the province should engage in a review of our municipal level of government, including its finances and the taxes and the structure. We're opening up the Municipal Government Act, and that seems like an area that deserves some attention. We don't have that coming before the House in this session, or any indication that it is going to come before the House in any session under the current government.
You know, Mr. Speaker, for all of those residents out there, no matter what municipality they live in, who are looking for some leadership on this issue, the bill is silent for them. What it tells them is that the government is more concerned about the state of the wax seals that go on official documents than they are about the efficiency and the organization of our municipal level of government.
Mr. Speaker, I don't know how that decision gets made. All we can do is look at what has been put before us by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I know he has been busy trying to defend the $100-plus million Yarmouth ferry deal; maybe that's why he didn't have time to write a lengthier bill for us. One can understand why - it would be a heavy load to try and defend that deal. It has been reverberating around the province for several weeks now, including today. I bet that the City of Portland couldn't wait to get their official seal on their deal. They were so excited to vote to take $100 million of taxpayers' money that they ran right to the safe and they pulled out their wax seal and they couldn't get it on that agreement fast enough.
In a way, one has to wonder if the official seal of Nova Scotia, which is the possession of the Attorney General, is ready to go on our deal with Bay Ferries. I don't know, would that help in some way, Mr. Speaker, if it was? Would it limit our losses if it was? Can you actually put an official seal - this is more of a question for the Attorney General, I believe - can you put an official seal on a contract that the government has signed when they've blacked out parts of the deal from Nova Scotians themselves? I don't know; that's actually a really good question.
For example, let's just say that there is a hidden management fee, some unknown amount that the private operator is going to make, guaranteed, year after year, while taxpayers are expected to cover every loss without limit, Mr. Speaker, one wonders whether the official seal applies in that case. Surely you can't take a wax seal representing the authority of the Crown, as invested in the current Attorney General, and apply it to a document where some of it is hidden from the very people who are paying the bills.
That would actually be a good rule - maybe that should be an amendment to this bill so that people know that seal doesn't go on anything in their name that is being kept from them. Then do you know what would happen, Mr. Speaker? The Attorney General would have to turn to her colleague in the Cabinet and say, you have to tell the people of Nova Scotia how much that management fee is, that guaranteed profit that that company is going to make at taxpayer expense no matter what, before I can give it the official seal. That's actually a really good reason for keeping the seal, because we want to know that we have that one last protection.
Maybe it's no coincidence that the member for Yarmouth and the Minister of Municipal Affairs is the same person who wants to get rid of the official seal before the ink is even dry on the $100-plus million Yarmouth ferry deal - maybe this is what's really going on here, Mr. Speaker - so that we don't have that protection anymore.
You know, even the amount that Nova Scotia taxpayers have to pay to upgrade the terminal in Portland is not known at this point. So, Nova Scotia taxpayers - you get this, Mr. Speaker, I know it's hard to fathom - Nova Scotia taxpayers are going to pay to upgrade the waterfront of Portland, Maine. That is an amazing thing. Little did we know when the government talked about investing in infrastructure, they meant Maine's infrastructure. How many wharfs and ports, and terminals in Nova Scotia need help? I would say there are a lot of them that need help, and yet our tax dollars are going to go through Bay Ferries and end up making improvements to the waterfront of Portland.
No wonder the Portland Council voted unanimously to take our money. They couldn't believe their luck. I bet that their keeper of the great seal of the City of Portland had that seal right there at his or her desk the moment that that got passed, and yet the member for Yarmouth wants to remove that seal from the books of the Province of Nova Scotia. Now we know why, Mr. Speaker, now we know why.
You know today's Attorney General, she was the Finance and Treasury Board Minister not that long ago, and I think she still has a little bit of that finance blood in her even today, and she has her hand on the great seal of the province thinking, I hope he doesn't make me stamp this on that Yarmouth ferry deal. That would be quite a conflict. Her hand would be shaking, Mr. Speaker, at that moment, and I don't blame her.
This just shows why a seal is so important, because it requires that the due diligence be done on some of these flagrant, expensive, money-losing deals. There's one last protection, gone. That one last little piece of red wax that the taxpayer of Nova Scotia could hopefully hold onto, to protect them from very bad deals like this. The member for Yarmouth, the minister, wants to take it away. You know, we weren't sure they were going to call this bill tonight, but now we know why. They have an urgent need to get it done. Mr. Speaker, it's obvious now.
So, you know, Mr. Speaker, there's red tape, which of course we want to cut. Red tape that actually gets in the way of growth, red tape that gets in the way of development, red tape that gets in the way of Nova Scotians moving forward. We want to cut real red tape. The great wax seal that Halifax uses, take it or leave it it's not going to make a hill of beans difference to the residents of Halifax, or the people of Nova Scotia. The fact that we have a bill that does something so trivial is really sad. You know, does it matter? I don't know. Does it matter to a single taxpayer out there? Are they going to feel better about life because the red seal, or the wax seal is gone? Well, we can only take a guess, but does somebody's tax rate go down? Does somebody save a dollar in bureaucratic costs? Those are questions that only the government could answer.
What's really under examination here isn't the two-clause bill that we have before us but a government that is already so exhausted for ideas about how to do something meaningful and constructive that they actually bring a bill before this House to do something as trivial as remove the wax seal from municipal documents. Mr. Speaker, that's what deserves a spotlight shined on it today. That's what people need to see for what it is.
When the great public relations machine cranks out the press release that says, "Look, we've cut red tape," I think it's important that all Nova Scotians know there is no great leap forward in red tape reduction here today. There is no new job that's created. There is no lowering of the cost of government. There is no decision that will be made faster. There is no leap forward in governance that's about to occur. We're talking about a wax seal.
With those few words, I move adjournment and look forward to continuing this another time.
Is it agreed?
I hear several Noes.
The motion is defeated.
The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition with six minutes and 12 seconds.
MR. BAILLIE « » : They liked it so much they wouldn't let me stop, and I appreciate that. I guess I hadn't waxed eloquently enough - not to get into puns. I wish we could save this for another day, but I can go on.
I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that when we're travelling around the province, whether we're talking to people who are working in municipal government or whether they work with a municipal government as a developer or as someone who wants to protect some parkland or needs a zoning variance, they have lots of issues with the time it takes to get things done. They have lots of issues with red tape, but not a single person has raised the wax seal.
That's a problem, because that's the only answer the government has for people who have legitimate issues with getting things done in this province. Where is a bill that actually talks about creating the climate for jobs? Where is a bill that we can truly debate about cutting red tape so that jobs can flow?
Almost two years ago, the government brought in a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing, and then said that the definition of what they had banned would be in the regulations, which were to come. It's almost two years later and we're still waiting for that definition, and an entire industry of investors and developers and job creators is waiting to see what has been banned. Because of that, really, everything is banned.
It's kind of funny, Mr. Speaker, that one of the reasons our power rates are likely to go up next year due to the delay of Muskrat Falls is that we don't have alternative sources of domestic electricity generation. One of the cleanest and cheapest is natural gas. Now I know the government is going to say there's no time, but two years ago there was time and now we're going to have to pay more. So for a government that claims they want to cut red tape, the fact that they've added an entire new burden to onshore gas development, to the opportunity for jobs and to the opportunity to bring power rates down, that's an action that is more telling than this two-line bill.
Instead of sitting back in government and saying, well, what can we do that will create jobs or create the climate for jobs or improve our economy so that jobs will come, what's a tax we can lower to unleash some economic activity, what's a real example of red tape we can cut so that new investment can flow? Instead of those things the best they could come up with was to get rid of the wax seal. That's very telling.
When you look around the province, particularly in our rural communities where the need for jobs is so great, whether it's in our resource industries, whether it's in farming or in the forestry or mining, Mr. Speaker, or in a variety of other primary industries or even in manufacturing, you'd think that government would have something to bring to this House to encourage those things along, but they don't. What they have is a two-line bill to get rid of the wax seal on official documents.
Mr. Speaker, that really is very telling. Now instead of looking at the cost of living in Nova Scotia today, in the face of a report that says we pay among the highest taxes in the country, when food prices are skyrocketing, when cauliflower hits at $7 a head, when people go to the grocery store and can't buy as much as they did the month before or even the week before, they are looking for a real break. They are looking for some leadership, some sign that they're going to have better days ahead.
What we have here doesn't address any of those things. It's a bill to get rid of the wax seal, Mr. Speaker, and that's it, that's all they've got, after two and a half years this is what comes forward at a time when people need those jobs, when people need a break in their pocketbook, when they need to see government getting more efficient, when they need to see real red tape being cut, what we have is a bill to get rid of the wax seal.
You know it's interesting, the history of wax seals. It's kind of fun to talk about it but do you know what, Mr. Speaker? It doesn't . . .
The honourable member for Pictou East.
MR. TIM HOUSTON : Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise tonight and speak to this bill. I had an opportunity about two weeks ago to spend some time with Clara's Girls and Clara's Girls, as many members opposite I know are quite fanatical about my Facebook page, they may have seen my post about Clara's Girls. It's a quilting group in Pictou Landing. I was looking at this piece of legislation and I was thinking, gee, the government when it comes to the HRM Charter and the Municipal Government Act, they're also quilters. When we see this patchwork of legislation that they put through it's like they're trying to change the HRM Charter one sentence at a time.
I went back and I thought to myself, is it just me? I did a bit of research and quite a few pieces of legislation this government has put forward - Minister Furey himself put forward eight pieces of legislation dealing with the Charter. Minister Churchill is trying to catch up . . .
The honourable member for Pictou East has the floor.
MR. HOUSTON « » : The current minister has only put two pieces of legislation through, so he has a bit of work to do to catch up to the former minister who had eight, eight pieces of legislation dealing with the HRM Charter. Folks, we are going to change it all one line at a time. Come to us today and tell us the one line you want changed and we will wham a bill through the House; that's what we will do. And when you want another one, come next week and we'll do another line for you.
If we want to change legislation and move things forward, how about we actually sit down and say, what should we change in there, and actually have a plan. Time and time again we see things that this government puts forward that are not well thought out. Maybe it is their own piece of legislation they have to pull back at third reading and say, well, we are going to scrap it and try again. Maybe it is a piece of legislation that they pass and two years later don't actually know what it is they passed, can't define it in the case of hydraulic fracturing. Who is to say what the plan is?
I thought I would take a bit of time and just refresh the members opposite about some of the legislation that they passed through around the HRM Charter and maybe they can reflect on that and say, well, maybe we should have looked at that a little closer and tried to make that as part of a big plan to make some proper changes as opposed to the piecemeal approach that would make a quilting group proud but maybe shouldn't make legislators all that proud on how they approach these things in piecemeal fashion.
We did have Bill No. 50, and that was the bill that the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, the now Minister of Business - if I may use that term - passed through this House, and that was a bill that allowed charges to be imposed by bylaw in relation to the cost for new or expanded recreational facilities. So, presumably, a little tweak that said the HRM can do some stuff through bylaws, let us deal with that. Here comes a stand-alone piece of legislation - not sure how many lines that was - probably a line, maybe two lines if they got overly ambitious on things they wanted to amend. That one passed through the House; that was Bill No. 50.
In short order thereafter, we had Bill No. 59. Mr. Speaker, I am guessing that was probably within a week. Something - well maybe hold on, let's do something else; let's put another bill through on the HRM Charter. This was a bill that actually amended the Charter retroactive to April 1, 2014. Well, gee, I'm wondering, but they probably got a little slow off the gun there and thought, well, we were supposed to do this before - maybe it is part of the first bill. I don't know.
They had to put another piece of legislation through and make that retroactive because that is the way we do things here. We do not actually plan things and think them through and have them as part of a big way forward. We just do it piecemeal, and if we are a little bit late, we will just make it retroactive. That was the second one that the former minister put through and that was the bill that amended the Charter retroactive to April 1st to permit the HRM to enter into a taxation agreement with the owner of an eligible industrial property.
Now, here are the types of things that go through. That is obviously a very specific case done for a very specific reason, amending the Charter for that, just in isolation, no sense in looking at what else could we do to bring the Charter modern. Let's just do it one line at a time. We will put a line through and we will use our majority, and we will put a bill through the Legislature.
I wish I hadn't jotted down the dates of when these went through because it is really particularly laughable, when you look at the amount of bills they have put through: Bill No. 50, Bill No. 59, and then we had Bill No. 75. In the way things progress through the Legislature, those bills are in very quick succession. We all know that those bills are happening very quickly: stand-alone bills, a line at a time, two lines at a time. We will put them through. No sense in lifting our heads up and seeing what has actually happened, let's just do this right now, maybe that's all we can absorb at that point in time is a very specific issue, and we'll put that bill through the Legislature.
That was Bill No. 75; that was the Municipal Government Act and the HRM Charter, and that was a bill to do with subdivisions. That bill made subdivision-related amendments to the MGA and the HRM Charter. It looked at things like clarifying the process to claim an exemption from the subdivision approval requirements or revised the provisions respecting deemed consolidations to clarify that lots are being consolidated.
This is a bill that would have come through the same minister, probably within weeks of one that had to do with entering into taxation agreements for very specific properties. No consideration of, well, if we're going to do something, if we're going to open it up and amend something, why don't we try and do the full boat here - one thing at a time, that's what we can address; one-line bills, two-line bills. If we miss it, if we're not observant enough to know that there are other things needed, well, we'll just put another bill through. So we had Bill No. 50, Bill No. 59, Bill No. 75.
Bill No. 75, mind you, was followed very quickly by Bill No. 76, because there's no point in trying to get a bunch of things done at one time. I believe the minister at one time - the minister who was putting these - ultimately found himself responsible for red tape reduction. Mr. Speaker, it almost seems unfair for me to point that out, but when you see these types of bills, I don't see the spirit of red tape reducing. It's not evident to me from this.
Bill No. 76 came along, HRM Municipality Charter; this is now a fourth bill at this stage. We're up to four bills now for Charter amendments. This was a bill that enabled the council to adopt compensation disclosure policies for the municipality and its agencies, boards, and commissions.
We have tax agreements, we have compensation, we have disclosure, we have subdivisions - we have a whole bunch of things that you would expect a rational person, a thorough minister, might say, well, hold on, if we're going to put a piece of legislation through to amend the Charter, should we maybe see if there are a couple of other things that we can do at the same time? That's probably what you would expect, but that's not the case.
Now I'm guessing that the House might have risen then after those four - Bill No. 50, Bill No. 59, Bill No. 75 and Bill No. 76. There were a couple of other ones sprinkled in there, and I think I'd be remiss if we didn't have a little bit of chatter about those, so I will take a few minutes to go through and look at some of the things that the government has felt fit to do to amend the Charter. Of course, mind you, not all at once - just a line at a time, two lines at a time; we'll just put another bill in and we'll go for it.
Then we had Bill No. 154. That was the HRM Charter amended, and that was the bill that gave the HRM Council the authority to enact by-laws with respect to campaign financing and the Elections Act. We get into the new minister now, one of his bills there.
The interesting part about that is, again, we're talking about by-laws. For those who are following along at home, we already had a bill put forward by this government dealing with HRM by-laws. That was way back in Bill No. 50, where they talked about a by-law around facilities. So we'll put a bill in about by-laws and then we come along and we have another bill about by-laws, and probably before this, before we go to an election - which my colleague tells me would be about a year and a half from now - I'm sure we'll have a few more bills about the HRM Charter, and by-laws specifically, because nobody is taking the time to lift their head up and say what is happening here, what should we be doing here?
We see it time and time again with bills that come before this House, where there's just a lack of foresight and a lack of appreciation for what is really necessary and what's happening. Of course we have this bill before us, before this House tonight now too. Going back to the previous minister, he had Bill No. 103 on the MGA, and that was a bill that prevents the incorporation of any new towns or villages, and at the present time a village may only be incorporated upon dissolution of a town.
Looking at the MGA now, we'll just tinker a little bit around the MGA for now. We'll put a bill through and stick a little finger in the water spout there, and maybe water comes out somewhere else, and we'll do another bill because we don't really have a plan for approaching these things. It's the same thing that happens with the tourism where we'd say well, we can talk about closing the VICs because we don't really have a full tourism plan. It's just all one step at a time. We'll just do it and we'll see what happens, and (Interruption) yeah, yeah, we'll just do it and we'll see what happens. It's a shame, it's a shame. It's not an effective way to govern. There should be a methodical plan that looks at this and says okay, if we need to make changes to these things, let's make changes; let's sit down, let's talk to people and let's see where this is going.
There are a couple more real doozies here, but I'm going to get to them in the fullness of time for the members, but - what's happening here folks? What's really going on? If you ask yourself basic questions about what are our objectives here? And you stand back and you say, will this seal create jobs? Maybe there is no direct economic impact from this. Well then in that case, is there a social impact? Like, what are we trying to advance here? Will it create jobs? I don't know. Will it improve our economy? It could be that this - there may be job losses as a result of this, because I'm sure it is somebody's responsibility to put that seal on. So will this (Interruptions)
MR. HOUSTON « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and will it improve our economy? Will it help rural Nova Scotia? These are questions that people want to know. Like, what does the government do? It's like the budget, how will the budget impact me? How will these bills impact what we're trying to do here in the province? If we pass this legislation, are Nova Scotians better off? I think every member in this Chamber knows the answer to that question, every member knows.
So, there are many issues around this piece of legislation, and I wonder if the members - maybe when the minister has a chance to close debate at some point, he may be able to share with us the plan - can we expect to see 10 more bills on the HRM Charter? Maybe I'm getting his fill right here, I'm not sure, but we may see a number of bills on the HRM Charter, maybe we'll see one more. Maybe we'll see one more that will address a series of issues, as opposed to a series of bills that address the issues in one-liners, in one-line bills.
I do have more to say about this bill, but I'd like to give the members one more chance and I would make a motion to adjourn debate for this evening on this bill at this time.
Is it agreed?
I hear several Noes.
There has been a call for a recorded vote.
We'll ring the bells until 10:00 p.m.
[The Division bells were rung.]
We'll now proceed with the recorded vote on the motion to adjourn third reading debate on Bill No. 152, the Municipal Government Act and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter. I remind all members to remain completely silent while the Clerks conduct the vote, please.
[The Clerk calls the roll.]
|Mr. MacLeod||Mr. Churchill|
|Mr. Dunn||Ms. Regan|
|Mr. d'Entremont||Ms. Whalen|
|Ms. Mancini||Mr. Delorey|
|Mr. Orrell||Mr. MacLellan|
|Ms. MacFarlane||Mr. Horne|
|Mr. Houston||Mr. Stroink|
|Mr. MacMaster||Mr. Hines|
|Mr. Lohr||Ms. Diab|
|Mr. Gordon Wilson|
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
MR. TERRY FARRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. I'll pass it over to the Official Opposition House Leader to set the business for the day.
I now move that we rise to meet again tomorrow between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The House now stands adjourned until Wednesday, May 4th, at 1:00 p.m.
[The House rose at 10:04 p.m.]
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
RESOLUTION NO. 3448
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas David Cudmore, CEO of Scotian Gold, the largest apple packing and storage operation in Eastern Canada, retired from the co-operative in March, 2016; and
Whereas Mr. Cudmore has significantly contributed to the development of Nova Scotia's agriculture sector throughout his years at Scotian Gold, managing the storing and packing of 50 per cent of the apple production in Nova Scotia and contributing to jobs and economic activity for many Nova Scotians; and
Whereas his quiet, yet focused way, and his determination in advancing the fruit and tree sector have been strongly recognized;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud David Cudmore for his dedication and commitment to the province's agriculture sector and wish him all the best in his retirement.
RESOLUTION NO. 3449
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Jos VanOostrum began his career as a mechanic and shop foreman before opening his farm-equipment/dealer business, J. G. VanOostrum Farm Equipment, Ltd., in 1974; and
Whereas due to strategic decisions and strong partnerships, the family-centred business grew rapidly, expanding the parts and service departments in the 1980s and 1990s; increasing inventory and adding a parts showroom and new lines of tractors and equipment in the 2000s; and
Whereas now in its second generation of family ownership since 2000, under Patrick VanOostrum's leadership, J. G. VanOostrum Farm Equipment Ltd. has expanded again, opening a new 7,000-square-foot service shop with a grand-opening celebration on Friday, April 22, 2016;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize J. G. VanOostrum Farm Equipment Ltd. as a great example of a family-run business that is a true success story here in Nova Scotia and in contributing to the growth of the agriculture sector.
RESOLUTION NO. 3450
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas on March 12, 2016, Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic in Halifax was the last stop in a four-city, cross-Canada tour of the RBC Training Ground program in search of future Olympic athletes; and
Whereas applicants between the ages of 15 and 25 were measured for their power, speed, strength, and endurance, with the hope of being selected to attend the 2016 Rio Olympics as a spectator; and
Whereas 18-year-old Sackville High School student Peter Collier, who has been involved with track and field since junior high school, competes with Team Nova Scotia, and is considered one of the top long jumpers in the country, was named the RBC Training Ground Athlete in Halifax;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate 18-year-old Peter Collier of Lower Sackville on his achievements in track and field and on being selected as an RBC Training Ground Athlete, and extend best wishes on his trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics and in his future endeavours.
RESOLUTION NO. 3451
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Ellis Yuen-Rapati is a constituent of Dartmouth East and started playing the viola at age 13; and
Whereas 16-year-old Ellis has been selected out of 500 applicants to join the National Youth Orchestra of Canada as a violist; and
Whereas the National Youth Orchestra will be travelling throughout Canada on a two-week tour this summer;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Ellis Yuen-Rapati for his dedication to the viola and wish him all the best in the future.
RESOLUTION NO. 3452
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas 15 years ago John Panikkar was at Discovery Channel and said yes to the notion of making a documentary; and
Whereas with over 300 more yeses from broadcasters around the world, including the "Hope for Wildlife" series and pieces for the Documentary Channel and National Geographic; and
Whereas John Wesley Chisholm says it is really just the most astonishing life of adventure with friends and family since;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating John Wesley Chisholm and Arcadia Entertainment Inc. on their 15th Anniversary and wishing them continued success in producing amazing documentaries.
RESOLUTION NO. 3453
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Sean Wyatt is a retired chef with the Canadian Navy; and
Whereas the Invictus Games are an international multi-sport competition for former service members who have experienced physical or mental wounds as a result of their time served; and
Whereas Mr. Wyatt will be participating in the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, this May, alongside other former service members from across the world;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislative Assembly join me in congratulating Mr. Wyatt and wishing him all the best in his competition.
RESOLUTION NO. 3454
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Shannon Patterson is a science teacher at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth; and
Whereas Mrs. Patterson has received an Education Week Award for her commitment to increasing technology-based learning in her classroom, using resources such as Google Apps for Education;
Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mrs. Patterson on her achievements and wish her all the best in the future.
RESOLUTION NO. 3455
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Ron Cleroux is a retired marine engineer technician with the Canadian Navy; and
Whereas the Invictus Games are an international multi-sport competition for former service members who have experienced physical or mental wounds as a result of their time served; and
Whereas Mr. Cleroux will be participating in the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, this May, alongside other former service members from across the world;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislative Assembly join me in congratulating Mr. Cleroux and wishing him all the best in his competition.
RESOLUTION NO. 3456
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas competitive curlers Kevin and Scott Saccary are brothers, and are proud of their Nova Scotian and Scottish heritage; and
Whereas in late 2014, Kevin and Scott co-founded the New Scotland Clothing Company, and have been working out of pop-up booths and a mobile truck unit selling their clothing line at sporting and musical events, as well as the Dartmouth Market; and
Whereas the Saccary brothers donate New Scotland Clothing Company wares to help raise money for the less fortunate;
Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Kevin and Scott Saccary on the opening of their New Scotland Clothing Company store at 20 Wentworth Road, in Dartmouth, on Saturday, May 7, 2016.
RESOLUTION NO. 3457
I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Dartmouth resident Mary McAllister was born on June 4, 1921; and
Whereas Mrs. McAllister will be celebrating her 95th birthday with family and friends on June 1, 2016, at the Dartmouth East Boys & Girls Club;
Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mrs. McAllister on her 95th birthday on June 4, 2016.